I first learned the call of the varied thrush when I was recovering from an illness that left me stuck at home for months. Every morning and evening I would hear the strange sounds that the bird makes — 1/2 song 1/2 robotic buzz. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out what it was. But, eventually I spied the bird making the sound and noticed that it looked like a robin and researching the calls of robin-like birds lead me to the varied thrush. This bird represents renewal to me. It comes in earliest spring and lingers late into the damp summer here in coastal British Columbia and hearing the call feels like a warm blanket, a first promise of the sunny season to come.
The Varied Thrush feels distant now
the three pitch cry
followed by a buzzing trill
in a damp wood.
pink salmon berry blossoms,
red cloven bark, and popping buds
that suddenly become spring
That voice is absent
the rocks are frozen together and slick
and the kelp is piling up into
great knots to ferment on the beach
or be tossed with boulders and logs
in the rocky froth
of North Pacific winter.
Me, I haven’t tasted salt in months
I haven’t heard that call
or set foot in those warming corridors
but I will know where I am when I feel it
I will know the sound when I hear it
I will know that it is spring then.
I will know to let go.