On the 4th Day of Christmas...

...my true love gave to me, four calling birds. 

I know when the pool is about to open for the Early Bird swim at 6:30 when I hear the theme for the Birdnote program on my car radio. This morning, with the snow changing to rain, I was driving slowly on the icy roads, and the music came on just as I was pulling in the parking lot. Rather than rush in, I couldn’t help listen. (It’s short, maybe 5 minutes- tops.) The sounds of sparrows singing in the dark Alaskan morning were sweet, and comforting. I suddenly wanted to learn more about sparrows. I have never paid much attention to them before. I mean, there are eagles and herons in my backyard— and then came this wonderful story from the announcer:

“In 1928, Margaret Morse Nice began carefully observing Song Sparrows near Columbus, Ohio, where she lived. For eight years, Nice banded and made detailed accounts of the birds' lives and behavior. Her observations led her to create probably the most in-depth natural history of any North American animal at that time.” 

Margaret Nice changed the way everyone sees birds, not just me, and there is a medal named in her honor prized by modern ornithologists.

I’m also reading a book called Faith: Trusting Your Own Deep Experience by Sharon Salzberg. Of course, the title is perfect for all of this, however, so is the content. She teaches that living kindly and intentionally, even in one small place, really is important, as every action no matter how small, creates another one, and like a rain drop in the ocean sends a ripple thousands of miles away— 

Mostly, when I listen to the news I don’t hear birds singing. And rather than hopeful, I feel rather helpless. It seems silly, sometimes, to be blogging about this nice life in this very small place and all the good I see around me or even the small things that drive me crazy. But right now, I’m thinking of Mrs. Morse Nice and her enduring legacy. (There were five little Nices too, that she looked after while tagging her sparrows. I can imagine her hanging laundry while whistling to both children and birds.) Also, isn’t it perfect that a woman who studied song sparrows, is named Nice? I hope she was, don’t you? One more thing: I did learn that she was inspired by a beautiful and practical bird study guidebook she received for Christmas when she was 12. 

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