The dawning sun is invisible. The sky is a pale pearl gray, its surface smooth and unblemished. The rains of the last few days are temporarily resting overhead before continuing their journey eastward.

My internal clock is set by the sun and each day I have risen earlier and earlier. This dim morning I sit on the cold, metal patio chair, a shawl around my shoulders, and take a deep breath of the air that smells of earthworms and dirt and chlorophyll.

The headlights of a car pass through the parking lot, its wheel hissing on the wet pavement. The distant freeway traffic drones like an electric current in the background.

In the foreground, birds, dozens of them, hide in the surrounding trees and bushes. They are whistling, chirping, trilling, screeching, trebling, all in a random chorus, welcoming this new day. This reminded me of a morning several years ago when I was living in another town – and in another life.

It was a glorious, sun shiny day and I had taken my dog Emmie for a walk at a regional park. Across a huge meadow stood a magnificent oak tree, its long heavy limbs stretching out as if to embrace the sky. And in the tree were thousands of small birds, all crying and cawing and calling.

I thought of the Sufi book, A Convocation of Birds, for this was truly a Great Gathering; or Van Gogh’s picture of crows in the corn field but without the menace. All the birds were the same species and this morning they were all of one mind.

Emmie and I went to the tree and stood under it. We were surrounded by the sound, incredible in its volume and intensity. Groups of birds would fly off, circle the sky and land again on the branches. Over and over, they were in motion, like a dark cape whipped across the sky. It was magnificent.

This morning these birds are not tied into one consciousness. There are at least half dozen varieties of songs and sounds. A few birds venture out to sit on the high telephone wires and observe the day’s arrival. Today there will be no rain to accompany their search for morning worms.

I hear the honk of geese overhead, look up and see a caravan winging north. Spring cannot be far behind.


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