It was the lyrical call of the blue heron that finally got my attention.
Perhaps it was the lingering stress of the conference that had just ended, or the realization that I didn’t really have a plan for my precious few hours to sight-see, but as I walked through Vancouver’s gorgeous Stanley Park, I was a million miles away. I was thinking of the things I still needed to do to wrap up the conference. I worried that I’d made a bad impression on the person sitting next to me on the bus because of some ill-timed sarcasm. I regretted not wearing more comfortable shoes. I was frustrated with my iPhone camera’s ability to capture color in the overcast afternoon.
All of this was swirling in my head as I found myself muttering in irritation “Man, it’s noisy here.”
The sheer oddity of saying that in a deserted section of a huge park was not lost on me. But, at that particular moment, it was indeed quite noisy. Several crows were chattering, sea gulls were sighing, and above it all was the fluty sound of a heron.
It was this cacophony of birdsong that finally brought me out of my head and into the moment. And as I wandered the next few hours, I was struck by the variety of things I heard. I was tempted to try to record the audio, but decided to put the technology away (except for a few snapshots) and instead simply stretched my legs and listened.
To the percussive babble of a brook
To the basso wail of the floatplanes
To the chittering of the black squirrel
To the rhythmic lapping of the waves
To the blare of the ship’s horns
To the conversation of the German tourists (on which I shamelessly eavesdropped)
To the hiss of bike tires on pavement
To the muted squawks of a mallard pair picking for their lunch in a tide pool
To the song a Japanese grandmother crooned to a fussy infant and to the infant’s indignant chuffs
To the joyous barks of a dog playing in the surf
To the click of my boot heels when I came back to a paved surface from the crunch of gravel
To the splashing droplets of rain on plump hemlock leaves
After a week of too much talking, I’m so very glad the heron reminded me to listen.
Photo taken by me, with an iPhone.