Wednesday, May 23, 2007


It is one of those truisms you hear so often that you begin to dismiss it as meaningless: that living or traveling abroad can make you understand things in a different way.

I've been thinking about this lately. Our apartment has a balcony that looks out on a small yard with several trees. There are lots of birds that we just don't see or hear in the Midwest: magpies, giant pigeons, and blackbirds. I often work at the kitchen table with the door to the balcony open, with birdsong (as well as traffic noise and children playing) as background music. For a long time, Tony and I were puzzled by the fact that we would often hear the birds singing long after the sun went down. Don't Swiss birds (with the exception of owls) sleep at night?

And then we finally understood the lyrics to the Beatles song:

Blackbird singing in the dead of night.
Take these broken wings and learn to fly.

Oh. So blackbirds really do sing in the dead of night. I guess it's just because they were only waiting for this moment to arise.


Patbrace said...

I'm impressed that you can recognize the birds! I sat on my front step a couple of days ago, waiting for the beekeeper to collect a swarm of bees that had taken up residence in my little flowering cherry tree (he told me that he has 60 hives now, down from 300 due to mites that kill the bees) and I watched the neighborhood avian chorus flit around the treetops. The only one I recognized was the robin. Several others remain a mystery to me, including the cute little red-headed guy. And I don't know which of them has the distinctive song that wakens me every morning at 5:30. I'll listen for blackbirds in Cambridge.

slatta said...

The only reason I recognize them is because Tony is a birdwatcher and he looked them up in his "birds of Europe" book.

So Cambridge is a sure thing? Hooray!