Singing - I: The Dawn Chorus

     Meg came home yesterday after being away for three days. She was tired, but happy. We had a family dinner with fajitas, and while I was cleaning up, I heard her singing in the other room. This is so Meg; before she could talk, she would wake up in her crib every morning and sing. Life goes on its busy way while she's gone, and I'm distracted enough to not realize that I've missed her until she's home again, singing. Then I feel my body ease, and the sense of completeness return to our family.
      The birds are singing like crazy now, especially in the mornings. This dawn chorus is only with us for a couple of months as the birds define territories and seek mates. Here in Maine, sunrise is just about 5:00 a.m. these days, but the birds can start singing up to an hour before that. We sleep with the windows wide open, and the early melodies outside rouse me to just below conscious levels. It is a side-effect I didn't anticipate when I started to learn bird songs: my mind whispers “Phoebe”, “Catbird”, “Common yellow-throat” into my dozing brain until my alarm goes off. I like this, actually. ­There is an intimacy that comes from sharing the early morning with the wild world. Some people complain about these birds. To me, they are the Grinches of spring.

     Not everyone is a singer, but I want to believe music is as intrinsic to our souls as love is. Making music is a whole different energy than passive listening. And singing is the music of our bodies; we breathe, we vibrate, we create. Singing physically changes me. I can howl like a wolf (alone in the car, singing to a certain song), or weep the tears that were barricaded inside me until a hymn begins. Those places – and the shower – used to be the only “safe” places non-professional singers like me could sing. But now singing is cool; “Pitch Perfect” is the movie of choice at Anna's sleepovers, and even Andrew wants to try out for an a capella group when he gets to high school. This resurgence in singing gives me hope.
     Soon the birds will be settled with mates and territories, and the dawn chorus will fade. Soon Meg and Anna and Andrew will be off to camp for the summer. I suspect they will be singing there, even more than they do around home. It will be quiet here this summer. But summer has its own magic, the magic of fireflies and thunderstorms and buzzing crickets in the meadows. That is the coming season.
      Now, though, I keep the windows open, and the birds sing me into a new day the way Meg did from her crib. I hope nothing ever takes their voices away.
Phoebe at the windowsill