Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Today I’m not very happy with my photo but it’s what I have, so there it is. It’s gray, chilly and rainy this morning, and I’m already missing the sunny weather of yesterday. In fact, it’s because it’s gray and rainy today that the photo I was hoping to get didn’t work. Such is life. Such is April.

Last evening, knowing that it would be the last warm day for a while, I sat outside on the front deck and watched and listened as the day turned first to evening and then to night. Just before sunset I heard the call note of an Eastern Towhee, my first of the season. The lone bird called its familiar chip note, but I have yet to hear its song. I realized as I drank my coffee that I’d heard the bird chipping for a minute or two before I became aware it was a towhee.
The same thing happens to me every year, with towhees and phoebes and others. Suddenly my brain wakes up from whatever else it has been doing and announces to me, “hey, that’s a towhee!” And so it is, the name of the bird rising from some slumbering depth of my wintering brain, its call (eventually) reawakening my awareness to the presence of its owner. For a few moments, before I’m aware of it, I have no name for the sound or for the bird. I’m not searching for either; the sound simply hasn’t yet penetrated my consciousness to the point of naming. And then my awareness kicks in, the connection is made, and both the sound and the bird are “in there” again, the sense memory reawakened, like a muscle long unused. Like riding a bicycle. Only for me, it’s the naming of a towhee.

1 comment:

pablo said...

That's a really good description of awareness, I think. The same sort of thing happens to me in the office. Many conversations are going on around me, but I don't listen to them until I hear some word that has meaning to me. Then it seems that I have heard the whole discussion.

I'm glad you got to sit on your deck and watch the evening progress.