Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all ~ Emily Dickinson
The silence this morning was deafening. The dark days are upon us in the northern hemisphere – each bright day shrinking, each dark night expanding, until the solstice shifts the tide in a few weeks. A full moon and its subsequent reduced appearances have awakened me each morning long before daylight. I admit to a modest glass of chardonnay sipped yesterday morning at 5:30 A.M. – the moon was so bright that I couldn’t sleep, it seemed more like night than morning, and so I paid homage to its lingering light. Balanced on the edge of night and morning on an unseasonably warm night, the moon and stars ruled the pre-dawn sky.
This morning, however, the moon had already set and I stood in the dark before dawn, with no dawn “chorus.” A moist and silent cloud of dampness filled the air – no birds, no insects, no creature noises filled the void, only a distant hum of traffic. Who is up and about at 5:30 A.M.? And so a damp cloak of emptiness became a shroud of sorts. I can do without sunlight but can I live in a silent world? Isn’t that the real nightmare of the imagined apocalypse? Not the visual destruction but the absence of sound?
Now, at noon, a dozen birds have added their voices to the world. Bluejays, cardinals, sparrows, woodpeckers, and hawks all spin their songs around me as Angel and I venture into the woods. It is a comfort, to know that stillness and silence may dwell within but the murmur of the natural world goes on, each voice in its perfect place in nature’s orchestra. I sigh and something inside, a tight kernel of fear and tension, relaxes and dissolves. I take a deep breath and enjoy the quiet murmur of nature’s world around me, every sound, every voice, every song present and accounted for. All is well, and if it is quiet, that is the way of things in nature in this season.
And birds singing in winter.