river road path, south/edmund, north
44 degrees/ 17 mph wind
Deaths from COVID-19: 319 (MN)/ 58,529 (US)
A difficult run this morning. Straight into the wind on the way back. About 5 minutes in, my knee hurt. Stopped for a few seconds, then started again. Mostly fine while I was running, but decided to not run too much. Not crowded on the path. It’s getting greener. Looked over at the Oak Savanna and the Winchell Trail. I don’t remember much from this run except for worrying about my knee or feeling the wind. The stretch of grass between Becketwood and 42nd was muddy and wet.
At the very beginning of my run, I heard the bird call that Scott and I have been curious about lately. I’d like to figure out which bird makes this sound and why. Found it!
Male Black-capped Chickadee
The song Scott and I have been hearing comes from the male black-capped chickadee. It’s also called the “fee bee” call or, when it has three notes, the “hey, sweetie” call. The song is used to attract mates or defend territory.
Some facts I’d like to remember from this brief video: 1. This song signals spring is coming and 2. Males use it in singing battles.
Of course, this mention of singing battles reminds me of one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver:
Invitation/ Mary Oliver
Oh do you have time
for just a while
out of your busy
and important day
for the goldfinches
who have gathered
in a field of thistles
for a musical battle
to see who can sing
the highest note
or the lowest,
or the most expressive of mirth
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air
as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude-
believe us, they say
it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,
do not walk by
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.
It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.
My effort to notice and then figure out the bird song, reminds me of another poem that I encountered (and posted here a few years ago):
Bird Song/Rebecca Taksel
After all these years
I still don’t know the name
of the bird who has followed me
with his early-morning song
to all the places I’ve lived.
I’ve never asked
“Which bird is that, singing now?”
I remember hearing him first
on a spring morning in childhood
somewhere in the woods
behind our little house, his song clear
above the thousand little sounds
of grass and water and trees around us.
I’ve thought about the deaths I fear,
but only now do I know the death I want:
to let that song be the last thing I hear,
and not to mind at all that I never learned
the singer’s name.
I wonder, was she writing about the male black-capped chickadee?
Thinking about the purpose of the black capped chickadee’s call, I’m imagining more of the conversation:
I’m right/you’re wrong
get lost/no way
gray duck/no, goose