Date: 3/18/17 6:08 pm From: Herschel Raney <herschel.raney...> Subject: Soundings
In the recent mornings, the first sound through the bedroom glass is the back porch Carolina Wrens. Singing and singing at first light. “Cheeseburger cheeseburger cheeseburger.” We have back porch and front porch wrens. They call all day.
And thus the season is shifting. I am always glad to be present for it. I may be happier each year. I hope to be. The frog chorus now and last night was tremendous. The first Gray Treefrogs were sounding off in the warmth today, separate and elevated . Up in, well, the trees. A signal song for me. A part of my life soundtrack. What will I miss when I am gone? It is on the list.
And the first Broad-winged Hawk aloft. I saw a hawk circling above my car and I slowed on Military drive. Was astounded to see the Broad-wing. And thought, surely that is early. And I found it was, back at my trusty, highly marked up Faulkner county bird book later. Usually my first Broad-wing is a whistle above the trees, a whistle that stops me doing whatever I am doing. I go and trace the hawk, the first whistling hawk. Coming from northern South America (I have seen them migrating in masses across the Panama narrows), they average 70 miles a day heading to be with us. This one launched early. This was a new week and new early date for my county. Which made me immediately miss Martha Johnson. She is not here for it now. But I would have told her about if she was. “Martha, the hawks are back.”
Jays in pairs in the backyard. They nest there every year. I also think I heard the Pileated Woodpeckers hammering on the tree they nested in last year just this afternoon. The Barred Owls are calling every day in the swamp. I call back. I have never found the nest, but their ghostly goings in the day may have given me a hint this year. I will look in a few days.
The first Black-and-white Warbler call. I am obsessed with finding another nest this year. I will watch and stalk. I will sit quietly in the leaves with my binoculars. Folded like a Zen student. I will be the lump, the stump with odd colors.
And then this evening at dusk, which is now at 7 pm and 7:15 since the time change: two distant dogs, a Robin in full chattery repetitious song and then the sudden chipping-in of the first Louisiana Waterthrush. Another signal call for me. An orienting call. The whistle of the Broad-wing, the jumbled call of the Waterthrush: these are the things. And after the first chips, the Waterthrush called and called every six or seven seconds for a long time. It made me put down Raymond Carver. It made me put on my glasses. The Pileateds crying, the Waterthrush over and over, crows, the fading Cardinals competing in their various directions. So much happening in my world on this warm day. The Waterthrush always makes me stop and orient: the earth on its way around the sun in its ellipse and its tilted angle, the solar system tilted itself against the ply of the galaxy, the galaxy of 250 thousand million stars. The local group of forty galaxies moving together, the Laniakea stranding of galaxies like some mesh of spider web through dense dark space. It is hard to pull back farther. We are nothing.
We are nothing. But this nothing has ears. And I am happy to hear the sounds of the tilt and the roar. We ride through space and the Waterthrush doesn’t give a damn. He just sings and sings. Trying to find a partner one more time in this dance. I will take his happenstance music and be grateful. And the Waterthrush, well, he will just make more Waterthrushes for me soon. And some days, just being the one who guards over the place that he does this, well, that is far more than enough for me. Far more than I should have been given.
I am grateful. At the start of my 58^th vernal passage, I am grateful. I am going to walk over to the frog chorus now, and bask in it.