I have always been waiting for this moment to arise. This winter, it was more urgent—the desire of this particular, simple presence in my world. Only when it fell upon my ears did I realize just how essential it was to the beating of my heart. What could possibly cause such a stir?
—the song and sight of the red-winged blackbird.
In the past, I took note of these beautiful winged ones as they lingered on the tall reeds in the pond, meadows, and grassy fields. Their bright red and yellow band on the black wing is a superb artistic expression of the Creator, and the simple song is uplifting as well.
Several years ago, a large flock of red-winged blackbirds visited my bird station. I was thrilled, grateful, and did not take their presence for granted. I understand that they come and go according to their cycles. Not knowing when they would depart was an opportunity to practice gratitude and honor the gifts of Our Mother.
Last year, not only did the red-winged blackbirds show up, but the common grackles and blackbirds joined them as well. I marveled at the sheen of their glossy-iridescent feathers, and I was appreciative that they often visited and stayed for a long time.
I toss bird seeds and nuts in the field and the wooded area outside my kitchen window. This provides the feathered and furred ones an opportunity to forage. I do have suet feeders hanging here and there, but not like I did in the past. I can also observe them, which I do many times throughout the day.
My senses are heightened; I am prepared for the bears to wander through the area, as they tend to at this time. They are beginning to wake up and forage. I don't want to mingle with them, giving a false sense of security around humans. Not all humans are like me, and they wouldn't hesitate to shoot should they feel the need. We tend to forget that this is their land too. We have barged in with our needs, destroying their habitat and reducing their food source. It is best to remember this when we set about our daily activities. Mindfulness serves a great purpose in the wild.
For the past few days, I heard the song of the red-winged blackbird beyond the treeline, near the still-frozen vernal pool. I stopped and let it in. A surge of joy flowed through all of me, bringing about a bit of surprise. Yes, I am thrilled to hear them, but I was almost brought to tears. It is truly music to my ears.
I looked beyond the trees, hoping to catch a glimpse. I did not. Hearing the abrupt musical trill at that moment was enough. I almost shouted, "Hello, spring!" However, I held back and whispered under my breath instead.
These gifts surrounding us, these other parts of who we are in our shared world, sustain me. After the colorful blazes of autumn have long retreated, when the fierceness of winter's wind whips through my heart, there is a dream-filled pause. It is within these sacred openings that I find my way through it.
The sound of these magical winged ones was a gift to behold. Then today, it was the sight of them that rests upon my heart. No sadness, sickness, or longing would get in the way. The recent tangles of my thoughts came undone in one gentle sigh—a graceful fluttering of black wings with a vibrant scarlet field mark upon its shoulder.
Like most birds, males and females have different markings. The red-winged blackbirds fall into this category, and the males show up before the females to establish their territory.
So, today I stood along the edge of the woods with the great wind rushing through, bending trees in its path, and I rejoiced. Many squirrels and birds chirped and twittered promises of hope for spring. Even this winter was not eternal in the depths of its bitterest nights.
Spring had become a lost secret, only present in dreams. Then, I awakened to knowing that my doubts were mine alone. There is no need to wonder. The song of the red-winged blackbird—sweet and clear—has strayed along the mountain path, finding its way home.
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