Fall Meditation #1 – Daybreak with Leopold

“By September, the day breaks with little help from birds. A song sparrow may give a single half-hearted song, a woodcock may twitter overhead enroute to his daytime thicket, a barred owl may terminate the night’s argument with one last wavering call but few other birds have anything to sing about.
“It is on some, but not all, of these misty autumn daybreaks that one may hear the chorus of the quail. The silence is suddenly broken by a dozen contralto voices, no longer able to restrain their praise of the day to come.”
— Aldo Leopold, “The Choral Copse”, A Sand County Almanac

This quote brought a new realization for me. In summer, the birds wake me up with early song, beginning long before I can detect the change of light from the coming sun rise. Usually, I cover my head with the pillow and go back to sleep until the alarm goes off.

But recently, only in the last week or so, mornings in my neighborhood and on my hilly street are quiet. Where have the birds gone? They still flit around the yard all day, stopping at the bubbler for a drink, and perusing the yard looking for any remaining bird seed scattered the previous day.

Mornings are still and beautiful, and often fog has crept up from the creek to the top of our hill.  A cool breeze breathes in through the north window.

Why don’t the birds sing on autumn mornings? The only thing I can think of is that they know – in autumn – that they have all day to fly and sing and swoop. There is no reason to rush out and get things done in the cool of the morning as the entire day will be an acceptable temperature.

I wonder if they feel the same sense of incredible relief that I feel now that fall is finally here!

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