Just Too Much on a June Morning


Every spring
I hear the thrush singing
in the glowing woods
he is only passing through.
His voice is deep,
then he lifts it until it seems
to fall from the sky.
I am thrilled.
I am grateful.
Then, by the end of morning,
he’s gone, nothing but silence
out of the tree
where he rested for a night.
And this I find acceptable.
Not enough is a poor life.
But too much is, well, too much.
Imagine Verdi or Mahler
every day, all day.
It would exhaust anyone.
~Mary Oliver from “A Thousand Mornings”

photo by Harry Rodenberger


What does it say about me that in the darkness of December mornings, I yearn for the early sunrises of June but once I’m firmly into the June calendar, it no longer is so compelling?  It confirms my suspicion that I’m incapable of reveling in the moment at hand, something that would likely take years of therapy to undo.  I’m sure there is some deep seated issue here, but I’m too sleep deprived to pursue it.

My eyes popped open this morning at 4:17 AM, spurred by vigorous birdsong in the trees surrounding our farm house.  There was daylight sneaking through the venetian blinds at that unseemly hour as well.  Once the bird chorus starts, with one lone chirpy voice in the apple tree by our bedroom window, it rapidly becomes a full frontal onslaught symphony orchestra from the plum, cherry, poplar, walnut, fir and chestnut.   Sleep is irretrievable.

I remember wishing for early morning birdsong last December when it seemed the sun would never rise and the oppressive silence would never lift.  I had conveniently forgotten those mornings a few years ago when we had a flock of over a dozen young roosters who magically found their crows very early in the morning a mere 10 weeks after hatching.  Nothing before or since could match their alarm clock expertise after 4 AM.  No barbecue before or since has tasted as sweet.

So I remind myself how bad it can really be and backyard birdsong is a veritable symphony in comparison.

Even so, I already need a nap.



3 thoughts on “Just Too Much on a June Morning

  1. We enjoy the birdsongs of early summer as we do all the early signs of new and continuing life of the long-awaited Spring-Summer seasons — until the spirited songs interfere with our preprogrammed alarm clock and the possibility of beginning our day in a sleep-deprived grumpy manner. We may even for a moment say that things are getting out of hand, that this is too much of a good thing. But when the continuity of this seasonal ritual ceases for a time we want desperately to have it return — an assurance of sorts of our not wanting things to change – or that we have that often human need to be always in control?

    One can discern that I am a city girl whose early morning sleep is not so easily interrupted by birdsongs as it is by the sirens of municipal emergency vehicles and waste collection employees banging empty containers and shouting at each other.
    Instead of ‘noisy early birds,’ I have to contend with birds using my driveway as a flight path over which they relieve themselves on my parked car – usually after consuming a full meal.

    I complain and forgive them and clean my car before the hot sun bakes their splayed ‘artwork’ and ruins the finish. I can put up with the brief annoyance because I could not bear the reality of never again hearing the early morning songs and chatter of the Robins, Bluebirds, Mourning Doves, and even the few scrappy Blue Jays.

    And…then I recall the lovely verse by Tagore (Bengali poet,1861-1941):
    “Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”


  2. For about the last month we, 5 or 6 houses, have been having a quail visit daily, calling we assume for a mate. Since none of us has ever seen a quail in these environs, we worry about his success personally and for his species. He has such Presence that we feel he’s a Spirit Bird.


  3. “You were only waiting for this moment to be free…” -The Beatles in “Blackbird”


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