20 April 2014

The Song of Spring

I set my alarm for early this morning. I needed to get up and put the topping on a lemon meringue pie, which is a holiday favorite in my family. I had spent all day yesterday knitting - probably not the best use of my time, but certainly an enjoyable one for me - and my procrastination had come to this. Up with the sun on Easter morning.

Except that I was awakened far earlier than I had planned, by a little songbird that decided to sing its heart out at 4 A.M. just outside my bedroom window.

That little bird is still singing as I write this, pie in the oven, almost three hours later. He is singing with all his heart and soul. He is sitting on a withered branch of a dead maple tree, singing with the urgency of someone who has something very important to say. Maybe he is looking for a mate. Maybe he is conveying a message to his fellow songbirds: he has found a full feeder, or a rotted branch full of tasty bugs, or the little net bag full of yarn scraps I set out for nest-building assistance. Maybe he's just happy that it's not snowing anymore, and he no longer needs to brace himself against the cold. One less thing to worry about in the daily fight for survival in suburbia.

Let me say this right here and now: I am only guessing. I do not know what the song is about. I do not understand fluently every single expression of joy, whether encoded in my own language or in the sunrise hymn of some enthusiastic robin in a tree. I know that we, as a species, tend to play ourselves the same songs of joy, over and over again, every spring: the song of Miriam with her tambourine on the far shore of the Red Sea, finally free from slavery, and the bright, blaring trumpet that heralds the discovery of an empty tomb in ancient occupied Palestine. We shop for the foods that comfort us and accompany our songs: bitter herbs, crunchy matzoh, chocolate bunnies, eggs to dye brightly and to whip into that meringue topping at the crack of dawn. We gather, we exchange greetings, we celebrate the same things our ancestors celebrated. We do this year after year, whether or not we believe, whether or not we understand.

It might just be enough to let the song awaken us, even if it's earlier than we had hoped, and listen to it, in all of its mystery. Maybe it's just about food, about housing, about a search for companionship, about warming temperatures, about survival in an uncertain world.

Or maybe it's about something more. Maybe it's about hope. Or maybe it's about the song itself. Some things stand on their own.

Happy Easter. Happy Passover. Welcome, spring. Keep singing.

My dad's favorite: lemon meringue pie.
What I spent all day yesterday working on: a cotton sweater for my daughter.
It will eventually have long sleeves, at her request.

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