Fortune cookie says: If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.

Those little nimble musicians of the air, that warble forth their curious ditties, with which nature hath furnished them to the shame of art.
Izaak Walton


This is the time of year when Minnesotans are shouting for joy and running around with no clothes on in the 46 degree heat and generally whooping it up, except you can't really hear yourself whoop because of what the birds are doing --

it's pure avian pandemonium --

and most of them didn't even have to live here through the winter!
I guess they're just happy to be back.

When I was in first grade, I was so inspired by springtime that I composed my very first poem:


Flowers blooming everywhere,
Birds are flying here and there.
Butterflies are flying by,
Spring is here! the children cry.
Playing games is so much fun,
In the spring when winter's done.

by Susan Meredith

Looking at it now I can see I had to work a little too hard for that last rhyme, resulting in a weak ending, but my mother loved it. (And let's not be too hard on me because I didn't become an English major until long after I was 7 years old.)

For my entire childhood, "Spring" was mounted in her music room on a giant poster that I had illustrated with first-grade-looking flowers, birds and butterflies with little dashed lines streaming out behind them to give the illusion of flight . . .

And having it on the wall there year after year made me feel like perhaps someone believed in me and thought I should keep using my voice.

When Rabindranath Tagore penned this sentiment:

"Faith is the bird that feels the light
and sings when the dawn is still dark,"

he was talking about April in Minnesota.

Every day about 4 am, long before the sun has thought of morning, the treesong begins. It's difficult to sleep because it is so loud, and yet you can't be cranky because once again your faith has been rewarded and -- inconceivably -- the world is coming to life.

The other day the weather man (who's lived here for 30 years) said he could only remember one April in which he hadn't been mowing his lawn by the end of the month. That was meaningful because right now, on April 15, our grass is still crusty and brown and I see little evidence that any of it will survive, let alone need mowing.

But when Mother Nature throws the switch here, it's like watching two weeks of fast motion photography, all set to the magnificent soundtrack of birds.

It makes me wonder about what our ears have been busy with for the past six months -- the silence must have been deafening! Sometimes you don't realize what you've been missing until you have it again.

Tonight we're going to work on setting up for the St. Paul ACC show. I had an experience setting up for Baltimore that reminded me of the returning birdsong. We had unpacked some of my work and had hung several pieces when I glanced up from the picture I was unwrapping and saw a whole wall of my work and it made me catch my breath.

You see, I make my pieces and frame them and then I wrap them up and store them in a closet until they come out to be shown (which only happens about twice per year.) So once they're finished, I almost never see them.

It's like I invest so much of myself in them and then they just slip away out of sight and mind. Someday I'd love to have gallery space in my studio so I could have work hanging all the time, but for now their appearances are fleeting and it's really special to me when I get to see them and remember.

Like having the birds come back and hearing them sing again.

I didn't even know how much I had been missing my pieces, so I'm looking forward to seeing their song in my booth
again this weekend --

a chance to get my voice
out of the closet
and make some noise.

Today I wrote another Spring poem, and I feel justified in publishing it because my mother doesn't have a blog, so who's going to do it
if I don't?

Birdsong, sky-flute
voice without words,
a drum of wings beating
the sun its praise
from the singing trees.

"The bluebird carries the sky on his back,"


If that's true, I hope he'll settle on a branch here for awhile and maybe build a little nest. It's spring in Minnesota, and we've earned a bit of blue sky and sunshine.


Anonymous said...

it saddens me to think of your wonderful little people and critters being hidden away in a quiet closet most of the time. (do you ever wonder what they're all saying when you're not watching?)

hope framing week has gone well. have you snuck some unseen new masterpieces past us? please, if you would, take photos of each wall of your booth once it's set up, so later we can see & pretend we were there too.

enjoy your happy spring birds & have a great show! luanne

susan m hinckley said...

Thanks, LuAnne -- I will take some pictures but I wish you could be there in person also.

And how funny of you to ask about my characters talking to each other when they're alone; that's exactly the kind of thing I would think of! (but probably not admit . . .)

Cami said...

ENJOY Spring -- at least for today. Hope it continues :-) I wish I were there to see all the new pieces. I keep checking anxiously anticipating what the pup says -- where is the finished picture? I can't take the suspense and wondering if my tax return might need to go for more fabulous Susan art. First dibs on the pup peice :-) Please, please, what does he have to say? Hope the show goes well. Miss you all!

susan m hinckley said...

Thanks, Cami -- I love how the pup piece turned out! And I love what it says! But it hasn't been to the photographer so I don't have a good picture (and he won't fit on my scanner). I'll take a picture of him when I get him hung and post that. Oh yes -- Ms. Sock Monkey enjoyed her vacation on the east coast and is back in Minnesota soaking up some spring sunshine. She sends her love.

Jake and Chelsea said...

that was a good post.

you are so good.

the post was good.

(that's my poem for you!)

VO said...

I love spring because the birdies burst out in song. Her in CA birds are always around, but they're busy eating so there isn't much singing.

Thinking of your work in the closet and then coming out and singing visually. I'd also like to see them all hung in a bunch, like hearing the whole song! Spring springs from your closet.

susan m hinckley said...

Oooh, thanks for that nice image, VO, "spring springs from my closet" . . .

VO said...


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