Earlier this morning when I stepped outside to carry the recycling to the curb, I heard cicadas singing from the trees and a chickadee chattering from the shrubs, the two sounds roughly equal in volume. “This is the soundtrack to July,” I thought. In June, the birds are louder than the insects; in July, the birds and insects compete in volume and persistence; and in August, the insects clearly win.


Later in the morning, however, while I was meditating, I heard a chickadee whistling his spring song right outside the open window: “Sweet, sweet.” It’s a song I haven’t heard since May, when the chickadees were courting; recently, given the demands of nesting and chick-rearing, the chickadees have been calling and chattering, but not singing. I wondered what inspired this spontaneous outburst of song: a surge of territorial ardor, a wave of vernal nostalgia, or an avian earworm hearkening back to younger, more carefree days?

I don’t know, but I sat up on my meditation cushion, jostled into awareness. What if the neighborhood chickadees have been singing–not just calling–all along, and I simply haven’t been awake to notice?