Comfort Foods. Why does no one ever talk about “Comfort Sounds” ? The other day I wrote about the absence of annoying sounds here in rural S. Texas, but this morning as I was sitting here reading my morning news feeds I was struck by the abundant bird sounds and remind that all my life the one sound that brought the most peace to my soul was the sound of birds.
Even more than that, I remember the one time in my life when I heard absolutely NO bird sounds. In the early 80’s we took a family vacation to Guadaloupe — one of the Departments of France — in the Carribbean. The sounds of birds could not be escaped. For three weeks, during the day, during the night, in the sun, and in torrential downpours of rain the one constant was the sounds of happy birds. Except for a couple hours.
Those two hours were the time we spent hiking to the top of La Grande Soufriere — the mostly dormant volcano and the site of a national park. Climbing towards the top of the 1467 meter peak we heard birds just as we had been hearing them all along. But when we neared the top, along with the acrid smell of sulphur we noticed diminishing and finally cessation of all bird sounds. You’d think that as loud as they had been earlier in the hike that the sound would travel — but not so. As we reached the summit it was dead silent except for the sound of the breeze. It was otherworldly to be sure.
I don’t know if it was the suddenness with which the bird songs ended, or just the absolute silence, but ever since then a sound which had always filled my heart with enjoyment took on the nature of something holy. Oh, men have ways of making music and it’s beautiful — inspiring even — but the diversity of sounds that God has intoned in the throats of his critters is — to me — absolutely holy.
Maybe that’s why I get so tight-jawed when I hear stories about extincting species because of the activities of man. I know people get upset at the idea of stopping a multi-million dollar project because of the nesting grounds of some critter the developers don’t care about but I keep asking myself how many of these I-don’t-care-about-them species we can lose before we begin to lose what is essential to our life. There is so much we don’t know about the universe; I’d hate to think we destroyed the cure for cancer because we had to extinct a species that could have saved countless lives — if only we’d known.
Of course that’s part of the problem. In my life I have seen huge changes in opinion about food and living all because we are ever learning about our world. Salt was good, now it’s bad. Eggs were good, then bad, now good again. Without a lot of trouble a person could make a list longer than my arm of the radical changes that have been brought about because of advancing science. How we treat illness has changed radically. When Peg’s mom was dying of cancer the doctor’s didn’t want to give her morphine because she would become addicted. Never mind that she was terminal. Never mind the excruciating pain she was in — they didn’t want to turn her into a dope addict for the last few weeks of her life. Come on now…. I think about dentistry and how the attitude about pulling teeth has changed. Or heart surgery — my dad had several heart surgeries in a day when they were almost experimental. Nowadays the process is very different and it seems almost everyone has it. (not really — I just hang with a bunch of heart patients. 🙂 ) In the late 70’s I needed gall bladder surgery and my surgeon (never hire a surgeon with big hands) was a huge guy about my size — I never thought about what my scar would look like until after it was all over. Believe me when I say my scar for gall bladder surgery is longer than many of the scars for heart surgery today. It extends from my solar plexus to my belly button. If you didn’t think about it you might be prone to ask if my heart and stomach had changed places! 😳
The world without critters, or the world without birds, would be a very different place. We chug along through life thinking that our oil pipelines and our fracking are nothing more than opportunities to make money but what we really don’t know is …. a lot … !!!!!
We have a few years experience of what our activity will do to this earth, and we act as if we had a spare planet to which we could escape if we screw up this one. But we don’t. This is it. This is home.
For now I’m happy that I don’t even have to open the window to hear the sound of the birds. They are so prevalent that walls, or no walls, their happiness comes through loud and clear. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’ll know that from time to time I do comment on the birds and how much I enjoy them. I guess that repetition is my substitute for yelling and screaming. That’s how much I appreciate the world we inhabit.
I know that there are political opinions around that demand that we cut our budget. I suppose that’s a good idea. Heck, I have to live within my means, I think the government should too. But cutting back on things that make this world safer, things that retain species diversity, and the humane care for other humans are not expenses that we should run rough shod over. They are real intricate parts of a delicate ecosystem that we should be finding better more efficient ways of dealing with. At least this one blogger things so.
But, it’s Saturday morning and the birds are happy. I’m happy to. As long as I have my birds. 🙂