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Poor Will's Almanack: May 22 - 28, 2012

Flickr Creative Commons user cknara

Poor Will's Almanack for the First Week of Early Summer.

The other day I was digging in the garden, had worked up a sweat and was resting in the shade of the back porch, sipping a glass of iced tea.

Sparrows were chirping steadily in the honeysuckle bushes nearby, the sky was clear blue, and a light west wind was moving the high trees.

My pulse was up from the garden work, and as I rested, I checked my heartbeat with the second hand of my wristwatch, 75 beats a minute.

I rested a little more, looking out over red and violet Sweet Williams and the pale blue spiderwort, and listening to the birds.

And the sparrows were so loud, and so steady. And then I realized that they were chirping at about the same rate as my heart was beating. I checked my watch and I timed their song.

Their vocalizations were almost a metronome matched to the beating of my heart, an audible affirmation of my existence, my life force tracked not by technology or even by self-awareness but by companion birds.

That evening, I was walking my dog through the neighborhood and I noticed robins chirping their familiar, up-and-down singsong call, and again I timed my rhythm and the robins' rhythm and found they blended almost perfectly.

Since then, I've found the correspondence between my pulse and birdsong to be less than I first discovered, but I wonder still about how many other rhythms I may be part of..... And there must be so many more, of course, ..........rhythms about which I have no awareness, but with which I am doubtlessly in sync, rhythms which not only measure out and pace my life but which also give it context and even its most fundamental meaning.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of Early Summer. In the meantime, listen to the birds...and yourself.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.