A Wood Thrush at Sunset

Reading and photographs by Robert Towe

From my nature journal, May 8: An afternoon working the garden and clearing brush, now hunger pangs grow sharp. The piquant aroma of roasted clams, steamed rice and fresh greens entices me to go indoors to eat, to replenish the spent energy.

Suddenly, soft amber radiance fills the rooms. I step back outside. The cloudy spring dusk streams with shadows and shafts of yellow light. From beneath a dark shroud of low stratus cloud the setting sun has just broken out, opening like a late golden eye. Greening fields and trees glow in the day’s last topaz rays. Such evanescent moments are preserved with visual memory paint in the maze of gallery walls hidden deep in our minds. Vivid impressions rich with colors are somehow kept with this black scribble of words.

I walk to the edge of the western woods, and look into the very source of the fiery luminescence---our near sun-star---hovering in gold haze above layers of far blue mountains. In the forest close before me, millions of pine needles glisten, spun like shining silk nets, catching the whole spectrum of the descending sun. New leaves and flower catkins of big oaks light up the shadowy dusk like incense candles, illumined from without and within by life’s enduring, living fire. The evening woods are “lovely, dark and deep”, preparing for night, swallowing the day’s final lights.

As I watch and listen, vision, hearing and fragrance intermingle, become one. The silvery notes of a wood thrush resolve into the golden wavelengths of setting light. In the distance, the big river breathes the slow water-rhythms of a constant sigh. And I am gently whelmed with the absolute goodness of being---how very good it is, to be alive. To witness another springtime bursting out of the long dormant months of winter, like white moths fluttering out of stale dark closets. Each day---lived in showers of sun rays or rain, every night sparkling with inconceivably far and misty stars---is a divine gift.

The rare wholeness of this spring moment holds within it sensations of peace,of a quiet joy. My open spirit willfully receives such delicate harmonies of created beauty: gold sun flaring through spring leaves; the crystal thrush-flute ringing through cool forest air. The timeless mountain river washes over stones, eternal song of the planet’s many waters gathered and rushing as one down a steep gorge, back toward the sea. All of it flows together now at end of day in mingled currents---the sweet fragrance and music of spring dusk, the soft radiance of a sunset in May.