Every night for the past week or so, hours before dawn, a nearby robin begins to chirrup. And wakes me up. Now I’ve learned from countless dark-night-of-the-soul tossings and turnings that if I allow myself to think about anything negative, I will anxiously stew and stew and never fall back to sleep! So instead of focusing on how pissed I am to be awakened, I listen. With curiosity. “What do you want me to know ?” I sleepily ask that unseen, winged creature. For surely such relentless urgency deserves my attention, yes?
That his song is varied, complicated, intricate in my first half-awake discovery. Could it be that what I’m hearing is a sales pitch cum love song? An enthusiastic, juicy details, over-the-top description of his outstanding nest-building and sexual prowess? And when I hear a phrase repeated, it’s because, like any skilled sales person or lover, he’s sensed a theme, a riff, a woo he’s realizing has enormous appeal. So: repeat that bit. Of course!
But, dear robin, why this pre-dawn performance? Is it that the early bird gets the mate? Or are you, like my forsythia blooming two months early, thrown off kilter by climate change? Do you no longer know when dawn arrives? Are you, like all creatures great and small victimized by my species, deserving of my deepest compassion? Or does your pre-dawn performance mean something else?
I do know this: You, singing from a nearby branch or nest, and I, warm and dry in my luxuriant bed, both occupy the same tiny plot of land. You and I are neighbors. You’re relentlessly, emphatically here!
And that’s what you want me to know.