I heard it! Walking out of work I heard the raucous trill of a red-winged blackbird. These shiny birds, the males with their fiery red mantle, are possibly the most abundant native bird in the United States. In Yellowstone, and many other places, they are the herald of spring. Until my late teen years I thought red-winged blackbirds were birds of myth and legend. The kind of bird that heroes went in search of to pull the magic red feather from the wing and take back to a witch or healer. Do you remember the last time that a the unbelievable became possible for you? I remember noticing this glossy bird in the backyard, looking it up in a book, and being delighted to learn that there really are red-winged blackbirds. They still seem like a magical bird to me. Their call isn't particularly beautiful, but it is unique to them. It is beautiful because it is theirs, it cries of marshes and cattails, it announces a coming spring, and speaks of fulfilling a difficult quest.
This week I'm teaching a course certifying others to be guides. It is incredibly rewarding to offer another person new tools, perspectives, and confidence. Today we discussed the the importance of creativity and self-exploration. At age eight each of us felt that we could run, dance, sing, and paint pretty well. We were funny, smart, and good storytellers. I asked a room of successful adults who could do these things today and I received only silence and lowered eyes. What changes from eight to twenty-eight to fifty-eight? Too often we come to believe that if our paintings aren't the most beautiful they are not good. In a similar vein, if we are not the fastest runner, highest score in the class, or have the most beautiful voice we should be silent. What a tragic loss! Each voice matters because it is yours and what you have to say, sing, write--what you create--could only come from you. That makes it beautiful. I remember a quote that hung on a teacher's reading, "Use the talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best."
It was snowing here in Gardiner this morning, but I don't mind. Yesterday I heard the call that only a red-winged blackbird can make and his song is beautiful to me. No one can speak of spring like a blackbird.
Sources: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-winged_Blackbird/, http://djbsphotoadventures.blogspot.com/2009/04/crazy-weather-with-some-moisture.html, http://www.flickr.com/photos/dbaron/519203903/