White-crowned sparrow mid song on a tree I saw whilst hiking around Lake Agnes at Lake Louise, Banff, Canada.
Photo by Andy Holmes / Unsplash

It's five am at my house in the woods of Oregon, and the birds are in full-throated song

One of the best parts of spring is the outpouring of being alive by all things. Well, not all things; my beloved bird's nest spruce is on its last legs. As with all things, spring sometimes reveals what we've lost over winter at the same time it lets us know what's thriving.

Why do we resist thriving when it's given to us to celebrate?

I've done it myself. I know this is rooted in feeling as though we aren't worthy.

I got a phone call late yesterday afternoon from someone close to me whose life has been an  unholy mess for several years now. This person, who was making something close to $125k or more just a while back, has been chronically unemployed since COVID. They are in their mid-fifties, right about the time companies in all their monumental stupidity have decided we are now worthless.

They have been driving for Lyft and Uber, with all the challenges and income losses that have gone along with working with Silicon Valley companies. I can relate, one pretty much bankrupted me. So I get it.

Just as with what happened to those of us who wrote for Medium, ride share companies sucked more income out of those labored for them. Far be it from us to prevent those cretins from eating their $1200 lunches. Oh, wait, inflation; it's likely so much more now. Better take more from folks' earnings.

Good thing this 70-yo author isn't job seeking, at least in that sense.

What struck me was that my friend's phone call was punctuated by bird song.

For three years this person lived in a dangerous, dirty downtown rental  building in their city that is struggling with homelessness. Encampments had built up across their street. While plenty of folks were desperate families and individuals, those people shared space with tents cooking meth.

My friend was attacked one night by two men wanting money. It was only by the skin of their teeth that they escaped without harm.

Every day for three years they would hike the stairwell for exercise. At the base of those stairs lay heroin addicts, splayed out and covered with urine, feces and needles in all directions.

The residents were paying for a secure building. Nobody knows how the addicts got in.

At one point there was a hostage situation. Every time we spoke I could hear sirens in the background. That's no way to live, yet research indicates that we are increasingly an urban people.

I used to live in uptown Manhattan. I have never hated a place so deeply in my life. I'm a farm girl. I have got to see green. The dearth of nature in the city sucked the soul right out of me. Central Park to me was simply a place full of danger. It is, too, for too many hapless walkers and runners.  

I fully realize that some folks thrive in the city, and their need for Nature can be met with a single plant or a caged canary. That isn't this author.

Now my friend is living with a brother and his wife, who had recently bought a 4000 square foot home- a mansion, thank you- for two people and a dog.

I won't go there. McMansions are a blight, but we already know that. At least they opened their home to more human habitation.

Now, miles away from downtown, I heard birdsong in the background.

bird on tree
Photo by bardia Hashemirad / Unsplash

Just like I am listening to right now in the woods.

I could hear the birdsong, a light wind, and palpable relief in their voice.

I pointed it out. They didn't even hear it.

In fact, in an act of terrible desperation and fear, my friend had asked the on-site manager of that awful building if they might be able to return, just in case.

Back to the sirens, the heroin addicts, the dangers.

In this new suburban home, they have access to a fine gym minutes away. We were discussing that last night.

Finally I asked one pointed question:

"Can you please celebrate the fact that you are surrounded by nature, in a quiet and safe home? Can you just be grateful for that?"

Silence, punctuated by birdsong.

A deep sigh.

"Yes. I can."

This person didn't even realize how much healing was taking place inside them right then and there. The breezes, the green trees, the sounds of birds. They were healing.

I am in the Oregon woods. Doing my level best to stay here, the same way my friend is doing their best to survive in a world of -isms. In this case we are both battling ageism, as we struggle to remain relevant and solvent in a changing world.

Nature is helping us both. My friend doesn't even realize how much yet- and they fought to stay where they were slowly dying.

I've done the same thing. Sometimes we have to  be uprooted hard to see how we have tried to stay where nothing is nurturing us.

Perhaps my spruce is dying, and it's the end of their natural life. Perhaps it's a blight. It's spring, and sometimes we walk the earth to see what winter has taken. For those of us who survive, it's time to celebrate, and throw ourselves with great abandon - however we do that- into appreciating that we are here to  hear the birds.

Nature nurtures. No matter how you get Her, She saves us. Whether you are urban or suburban or rural, there is always nature around somewhere.

It's spring above the equator. Are you celebrating? Can you hear the birds?

Can you and I be grateful and let that healing in?

My friend can, now that they are listening.

This Meadowlark was so focused on finding a mate that he allowed me to get quite close for a few detailed shots.
Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton / Unsplash

Dear Walkabout Saga Reader:

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