My long journey of recovery from a post-surgery knee infection, over a year n0w, has of late included a 10-mile bike on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT). I will highlight the trail in a later post, but suffice it to say that my bike this morning at 7:30 was satisfying and therapeutic. What I was not expecting was that my ears and heart would be the greatest beneficiaries.
The trail is mostly wooded. The air this morning was cool, chilly at first, but perfect for a quicker pace. The air also carried another early-morning gift, the call of a Hermit Thrush. As the miles clicked by, each new wooded section held a new song. I was torn by indecision. Do I stop to listen to the song, or do I keep moving in anticipation of yet another. The thrush is seldom seen in the Vermont woods. Shy, most say, but early in the morning or early in the evening, those pan-flute morsels are scattered to the ears willing to hear.
“The senses don’t just make sense of life in bold or subtle acts of clarity, they tear reality apart into vibrant morsels and reassemble them into a meaningful pattern.” ― Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
The "meaningful pattern" always, for me, leads back to my father. From the time I was able to hold a fishing pole, my father would walk with me through the woods to the edge of Molly's Falls Pond. (Marshfield Dam to us locals.) It was an early adventure. Fog would be rising from the water. If we were lucky, we would see fish rising up for flies, or at least we would see the concentric ripples left behind. As much as I recall those sights, even the smell of freshly-captured night crawlers, the cold dampness of my boyhood face, it is the memory of that song, the song of the Hermit Thrush along the shores, that captured me. That haunting song was and is my father, or at least it brings me back to him. My father has been gone since 1984, but again this morning that song brought him back to me if only for a while.
Synesthesia examines the function of sensory input from the natural world and how it affects human beings as they move through the world. It is the combination of sensory memories that guide us on our journey if we are open to them. I, for one, am guided and captured by this song. (The Hermit Thrush is it ititit.)