As I go forward
I will measure my decline
Solely in birdsong
Okay, so it’s not a great haiku, but it meets the 5-7-5 rule. It’s a lovely revelation really, and one I came to on my morning walk today. Maybe I should explain.
As we age and our hearing declines, certain birdsongs begin to fall away. There’s a big name for it: presbycusis. The simple definition is: high frequency hearing loss. The brain’s ability to filter out background noise changes too. Sensitivity increases. But it’s that pitch that is the bugger. Consonants become harder to hear than vowels. High pitch doorbells and dryer buzzers blend into the white noise. It’s harder to hear violin and flute.
But back to the birds.
Bird sounds are composed of high and low pitched notes, so in a lot of cases, we will notice our decline “in pieces”. The highest notes will disappear and we might catch the notes that drop in pitch. The first bird song we are likely to lose is that of the golden-crowned kinglet. It’s an ascending and accelerating series of up to 14 very high-pitched notes that end in a musical warble. It will be the first.Then comes the brown creeper. And cedar waxwings, warblers and sparrows after that.
As many ways as there are to measure decline, mine will be this. It came to me on my walk around the refuge early this morning. Just me and the birds (and the coyote again!).
I heard kinglets and creepers today.
I’m fine. Whew.
Chalk one up for me and the birds. Here was my morning walk.