Sunday, February 21, 2010

38 The blackbird and the hind

Sunday February 21, 2010:

All week I’ve been aware of the blackbird singing early in the morning. Every day I stumble out on sleepy legs and drink up the liquid loveliness before rushing out to work.

It’s Sunday and I’ve declared a pajama day. I am wandering about doing nothing in particular. From the garden comes the pure fluid song of the blackbird sitting high in the ash tree.

It’s been sunny if cold these last few days and I imagine him, lit by the setting sun, head thrown back, beak open, belting it out like nobody’s business. I’m still a bit frail and wobbly after a nasty cold, so I open the back door and stand there listening.

The blackbird sings his head off. Each phrase is unique, dynamic and joyful. I smile, I can’t help it. Surely everyone who hears him must feel uplifted?

The crows and magpies caw and cackle, The pigeons “droo-droo”, the tits “pip-pip” and the robins trill cheerfully. The garden is a riot of singing. I hop up and down like a delighted child. But the loudest, clearest most exciting and beautiful song is that of the blackbird - *my bird. I feel ridiculously proud of him, beating all the other birds at their song.

Softly, I sing back. I can’t help it, it just happens. I copy his phrases, whistle under my breath. Soon I am lost in a mesmerizing circle of call and response as we duet together cheerfully.

Two tall trees frame a gateway beyond which a grassy hill slopes down to a wood. The blackbird beckons with his song. I have to follow.

My feet lead me along a path and into the woods. The low winter sun slants through the trees. I walk on as dusk falls and the shadows lengthen until I am walking in the twilight. The blackbird stops beside a dark opening between two trees.

I bend and climb into a hollow carved out of a bank surrounded by thorn trees. It is dry and sheltered. I settle down to wait on the soft dry loamy earth.

Night falls. Above me, the winter trees are etched blackly against the dark moonless sky. I sit and wait. All is silent.

Slowly a half moon rises behind the trees, casting shadows across the small clearing in front of me. Bats fly darkly across the moon’s shining face. In the distant, owls call to each other.

Something glimmers in a darker space in the centre of the clearing. Faintly, I hear the murmuring of water. I wait and watch the moonshine shimmering on what must be a small pool.

Softly, the trees shake their bare branches, their twigs rustling together in the breeze. Faintly, I hear the sound of bells tinkling.

Lit by the bright moon, a small white hind treads silently into the center of the clearing. I hold my breath, for she looks timid and gentle. She moves delicately across the grass to the pool in the centre. Bending her graceful neck, she stoops to drink; the softest of lapping sounds dances with the gentle murmur of what must be a spring feeding the little pool. I sigh softly, sitting absolutely still lest she hear me and be frightened off.

She raises her head and seems to look straight at me. Slowly I fold my hands across my heart and bow my head in reverence. She waits standing absolutely still then turns her head away and moves quietly back into the trees.

I sit still and wait. Time moves on. The moon sails across the sky. In the east, the faintest of silver can be seen. The owls hoot their last before the piercing song of the blackbird penetrates the velvety silence, triumphantly heralding the dawn.

My heart melts. I am full of joy! Day is come. The blackbird pierces the still air, his liquid silver washing over me. There can be no sadness when the blackbird sings.

The sky lightens and shows me the small pool at the centre of the clearing. I get up and walk over to it, kneel down and dip my fingers into its clear coolness. It is cold but crystal clear. Its surface eddies slightly as the spring feeds it. I see it has carved a small channel in the rock on the other side and is trickling away amongst the trees. I cup my hands and bend my head and drink.

Coolly, the water moves through me, refreshing me, energizing me. Pure, sweet yet clear, it tastes of nothing and of everything. I drink more till I feel full of liquid morning joy. If the blackbird’s song was a drink, this is how it would taste, I think.

The blackbird hops from tree to tree, still singing. I get up and follow him as he leads me from the wood and back to the tall trees that are the gateway to this world.

I lean against the door jam and listen to his lovely singing. Every phrase different, every phrase energetically joyful, as though he is singing “life is good”.

“Life is good”, I think, glad I have found the time to listen to the blackbird singing at sunset on a late winter day. I fold my hands over my heart and bow to him, blow him a kiss and whisper half to myself,

“I love you, I love you, and I love you.”

High up on the Parkland walk, a dog walker scolds his disobedient hound. Neighbours meet and greet each other. A plane whines high up in the evening sky. The blackbird sings his evensong, for he won’t stop while there is still some sun left.

Spring will come soon, I know it will, I think. I retire indoors. Now it is time to take down the winter alter and mark the return of the maiden with soft, soft feathers.

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