Celebration

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Rising early to put the easter ham into the oven, I am blessed by the quiet, the peace inside and out. The oven door gingerly closed, I move softly with a warm mug of coffee into the invitation, out onto the porch.

Slowly light dawns, not in a vivid flash of color but in a subtle movement from black through the grays, and so also begins the similarly subtle chorus of song, like a slowly building concerto drawing me in. First, there arrives at my ear the faint remnants of owl softly hooting, like a mother shushing her child into the nest, even as I settle myself onto the rocker, wrap up in my grandmother’s afghans.  Somewhere in the distance, woodpecker drills his percussive beat beneath the constant and haunting broken chord of conversing mourning doves. A skuttle of squirrels in dry leaves draws my attention closer and a pair of Canada geese greeting the day do the same, this time overhead. Finally, the crows announce with their raucous arrival that it is officially morning at last.

High and melodious, but easily unnoticed unless one is paying attention,  the songbirds  in the treetops, warbling and whistling their sweet serenade.  I rest my head on the high back of the chair, closing my eyes to breathe in the resonance. Few human sounds are present at this hour on a holiday morning, the occasional rush of a car on the winding road below, but not so much as is more typical. A thud somewhere down the street feels like a heavy door closing.

The flutter of robins enacting their inelegant ritual of celebration, leaping and flapping and bumping their chests, captures my ears. I open my eyes to witness their odd mating dance. Closer now, a Tweedle-tweedle-tweedle-tweedle-tweedle, though I know not his name. A jay and a nuthatch, a chickadee  a finch, companions too often taken for granted, take turns swooping into the feeder for breakfast. It is the beating of their wings as they sweep in and out that calls me to acknowledge their ever-presence. A hairy woodpecker now, his crimson sideburns flashing, stops by the insect ridden hemlock.  Soon a  female cardinal replaces him on the perch.  Someone scurries now on the porch roof overhead, scratching its way through the leavings of winter.

I rise slowly, move softly indoors, where my husband is sleeping. Not wanting to disturb this morning peace, I begin, in sacred silence, my own morning ritual this easter morning. Peeling potatoes, preparing for my own flock to arrive.

Soon I am in a frenzy, there’s much less time and much more to do than I envisioned, but climbing the stairs a few hours later to pull a colorful dress over my head and down across my skin, I remember the birds of the dawn. Pause for a moment to breathe, inhaling deeply before the crescendo.

It comes in a flurry of sons and granddaughters, daughters-in-law bearing blessings. In vivids and pastels, the little ones bring in the light, their chorus of voices exuberant. In a whirlwind, the brood swoops in and out, feasting on potatoes and asparagus, strawberries and spinach, crooning their light-hearted chatter of stories and memories. The children enact the age-old spring ritual of celebrating spring, this hunting for eggs, and I wonder if their ancestors might have once performed such an act out of necessity each spring, passing along the legacy of survival and renewal.

And then they are gone, like a flock in synchrony, one makes a motion and soon the others take off in fanciful flight, gathering the strewn, packing the remnants. Then, kisses and hugs. Car doors and silence.

I turn to survey the disarray, begin the long work of cleanup.

Weary at last, I return to my perch on the porch. The Canada geese return to their steady, rhythmic honking… or were they at it perhaps all the while?  The pileated laughs above, a male flashes his cardinal red colors below, squirrels scurry and chase. Closing the concerto, as it began. I sit and await the closing refrains, yearning for mother owl’s song. The grays darken to charcoal, soon will be black, the day’s celebration softening slowly but surely into the comfort of night.

Another day in paradise.

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