Earth tones


Memories of Walden are with me on this final night of July 2013, never to be repeated in this lifetime.

On my swim yesterday, I spent much of the time beneath the surface, rising only to take a breath and look ahead to get my bearings. My wrists were sore, so I let my arms hang limply in the water while my legs did the work.

I loved the quiet of the water world, but I missed the sky. Many minutes into the swim, I kept my head above for a spell. I was immediately greeted by diving barn swallows. One swooped down right in front of my, grabbed an insect from the surface of the water, and zipped high above me. They were everywhere around me, a ballet of birds dancing in the air

Earlier, as I was walking around the pond, a kingfisher had called in the distance. A few steps later, I heard the flute-like tones of a hermit thrush, rising and then falling. The most beautiful sound on this earth.

I wondered if the male singing had not yet found a mate and could not fathom how any female would turn down a song so pure and haunting.


The thrush are my favorite family of birds. They are unassuming and modest, far less showy than some of their forest counterparts. The hermit thrush is elusive, spending much of their time hiding. With grey-brown plumes on their back and delicate spots on their chest, one might never notice them were they standing in plain sight.

The thrush are much closer to my taste in the opposite sex. I can do without pedantics and outlandish attempts to show-off. The chest thumping of a ruffed grouse would tend to kick in my flight instinct were it translated into man speak.

“Hey baby, how you doin’? Check out my man muscles. You know you want me.”

No thank you, I would respond, and carry on in search of less abrasive charm.


As I neared the end of my swim, I could hear a lone pewee calling from somewhere in the forest beyond the water.


I could love a pewee, so slight and fair. It has a gentle voice that is pleasing to the ear. Yes, I could love a pewee.

In the end, I was still human. I waded to shore after one final, full body drop into the water. With the clumsiness of my species, I dried off, pulled my dress over my head, dipped my feet into the water one at a time, put on first one then a second sandal, and climbed the rocky staircase to the pond trail to head back to my car.

And now I sit and remember as I write—the feel of the water, the sound of longing, the smell of earth, and the taste of life.


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