Etchings in the Sand…

Thoughts and Photos from the Desert…

New Every Winter…

Views from a Japanese mountainside

Monday, December 11, 2006


will be the twelfth winter I’ve spent up here on the mountain, and this
morning I was awakened just at dawn by the song of a bird I’ve never
heard before, that had a melodic richness that brought me to careful
attention, with ears never sharper than in the silence of a mountain

The brief melody was as ornately trilly as that of the
warbler, but it was bigger, deeper, richer, in a thick-honey sort of
way. (Birdsongs are notoriously difficult to describe.) And whereas the
warbler song is splendidly ornate, it is only one-dimensional: a single
note, bent and trilled along a single line of sound through time. This
song, in contrast, had a deep, multidimensional resonance, more like a
chord of notes sounded and intertwined together; I’ve never heard its
like before. And as though its richness were were a factor of its
length, it sounded twice, very briefly – just a course of several
multilevel notes – then was heard no more.

It was 12 years
before I heard it, then in only two brief melodic cascades it was done;
when will I hear it again? What bird was it? I love the way life keeps
creating us with fresh mysteries, planting enigmas where they best take
seed, where we are most awed and nourished onward in new alertness…

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