Getting an Earful

By Dan Sullivan

Just the other morning, I got lectured.  This was a classic case of getting an earful.  Spring had sprung and I was in the midst of experiencing this season for the first time in my Northwoods home.  I began my day with the awakening call of a loon.  It’s an earthy rendition that cannot be mistaken.   Before even sliding out of bed, another primal echo reached my ears as flocks of migrating geese honked overhead.  And as if this were not enough, the squawking of nearby merganser ducks started competing with the bantering geese.  The world was coming to life all around me.

While preparing breakfast, the obnoxious hammering of a woodpecker reverberated from the next door neighbor’s hollow tree.   Repeatedly pounding his head against this hard object reminded me of my days working for the federal government. Just outside the living room window and perched high in an oak tree, a mourning dove cooed its own wakeup call.

Stepping out onto my deck, the freakish sound of a distant raven drifted across the lake. After enduring a long winter with commotion-causing crows, my changed fortunes now found me being entertained by the varying melodies of returning songbirds.  Although it was robins which dominated this a.m. scene, I suddenly caught wind of a triggered memory. There was this chirping song I had not heard for years, I distinctly remember where and when I used to hear this tune.  It was that same bird which greeted me along the trout streams of southern Wisconsin, where so much of my youth was spent fishing with my old mentor, Reuben.  I froze momentarily while daydreaming about threading a hook through a big fat nightcrawler and tossing it into the current.

Even though I had yet to venture beyond my home on this burgeoning April morning, I now found myself being summoned by a call of the wild.  There once had been a time when I could focus on all these feathered friends with greater clarity and acuity.  Those days were now long past and so on this particular day, I had to settle for sounds that let me see what I could no longer see.   This continues to be a difficult journey for me.  These faded eyes still miss what use to be.  Nonetheless, by way of this enlightening and nurturing spring morning, life sounded, oh, so good to me.

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