24 August 2011

Just a Memory in the Future?

I was feeling a little down today, so I looked for some things that would put a smile on my face. After listening to some music and watching some comedians do their work, I felt better, so I stopped actively seeking pick-me-ups. Then, after a while, a seemingly unrelated urge to get some information on cedar waxwings overtook me. (As you may recall from an earlier post, the cedar waxwing is one of my favorite birds.)

I decided to go to All About Birds for my waxwing information. Along with tons of information about birds, the Web site has recordings of bird sounds, so I clicked on one of the waxwing calls. As they do when I hear them outside, the familiar trilling and whistling brought a smile of happiness to my face. However, I recognized the presence of another feeling sparked by the sounds. This one was deeper, and I realized just how connected I am to cedar waxwings.

That may sound fanciful, but in truth, I think the feeling is quite grounded. I have a number of special memories tied to waxwings. For instance, I remember my grandma yelling for a gun to keep the birds out of her berry patches; I remember my personal rediscovery of them near my home ten years ago; and I think of how this summer, while I was fishing, I decided to take a break and just sit and watch as a group of the birds fluttered over the creek in pursuit of bugs (I was so happy to see these old friends there).

Through those memories and others like them, the cedar waxwing has become part of me, and I think that is why I ended up at All About Birds, looking at, reading about, and listening to them today: Needing to tap in to something strong, I reconnected with an enduring element of my life.

Afterward, I thought about what would happen to me if cedar waxwings were not around anymore. I am in a part of the world where the birds live all year round, and I usually don't have to wait very long before I hear them outside (as opposed to finding the sound on the Internet); but I wonder if global warming might change that, forcing them farther north or even driving them toward extinction. I think if either of those scenarios were to happen in my lifetime, I'd lose part of myself, a part that would be hard to live without. (This is an example of what I meant when, in my top five reasons for addressing global warming, I said I didn't want to see the place I grew up changed by something we can stop.)

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