Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Spring (the season) (07/23/09)
TITLE: Raising Our Voices
By Emily Gibson
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This must be tough on the plants and animals that are trying to decide just which way the seasons are going. I know that my daffodil and tulip bulbs pushed their stems hurriedly from the ground during a warm spell, but then as we fell back to colder days,they stood still, not gaining any height, probably reconsidering their hasty growth as they were nipped by frost. Our horses started blowing their fur coat too, but then needed it badly over the last few nights, probably wishing I'd glue those clumps of hair back on their bodies rather than piling it outside for the birds to grab for nesting material.
A long awaited yet familiar sound greeted me as I headed to the barn to do chores on a particularly warm evening. The echo song of the Pacific Chorus Frogs or “spring peepers” filled the air, rising from the woods and wetlands that surround our farm. I stood still for a moment to soak up that first song that heralds spring--a certainty that the muddy marshes were thawed enough to invite the frogs out of their sleep and start their courting rituals. Winter cannot return anytime soon with any seriousness now. A frog's version of Handel's Messiah in the swamp--Hallelujah!
In the early mornings when I go to do chores I'm hearing bird song that has been absent for months. It used to be the only sound from the air were the Canadian geese and trumpeter swans honking as they'd fly over head, and occasionally a flock of seagulls flying inland for the day to feed in the old cornfields. Now there is an orchestra of songs from all around--Bach fugues in birdsong.
I know the behaviorist theories about frog chorus and bird song being all about territoriality --the "I'm here and you're not" view of the animal kingdom's staking their claims. Knowing that theory somehow distorts the cheer I feel when I hear these songs. I want the frogs and birds to be singing out of the sheer joy of living and instead they are singing to defend their piece of earth.
Then I remember, that's not so different from people. Our voices tend to be loudest when we are insistently territorial: our point of view above all others. I'm not sure anyone enjoys that cacophony in the same way I enjoy listening to the chorus of frogs at night or birdsong in the morning.
People are most harmonic when we choose to listen. Instead of sounding off, we should soak up. Instead of shouting "stay away--this is mine~", we should sit expectant and grateful.
Perhaps that is why the most beloved human choruses are derived from prayers and praise: singing out in joy rather than warning others away.
I'll try to remember this when I get into my "territorial" mode this spring. I don't bring joy to the listener nor to myself. When it comes right down to it, all that noise I make is nothing more than croaking in a smelly mucky swamp. Once my voice rises above the mud, in clarity and hope, then I can truly celebrate the new life that spring inevitably brings.
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