For most human beings, the dominant sensory organ is the eye. Most of us base our daily routine -- the spatial positioning of our bodies, our response to external stimuli, personal decisions and plans -- on what we see. Along with keeping us true to a physical course, vision also serves as one of our primarily methods of communication. Try to imagine a day without reading: even if you don't deliberately sit down and open a book, you can't escape road signs, recipes, and the weather channel message crawl along the bottom of your TV screen.
The act of reading is an abstraction: the symbols that the eye records do not carry innate information. The black marks on this page are shunted from the eyes to the brain which then decodes them, processing and consolidating individual letters into an understandable message. Perhaps because our society puts so much emphasis on reading, vision for us has become a primarily intellectual experience: anything the eyes see goes directly to the brain. What we see is what we think.
But as humans we have other senses -- maybe not as developed, maybe not as dominant -- senses that also provide us with information from the frenzied world outside of our bodies. Like the musical score of a movie, sounds, odors, tastes, and touches enrich the background of our lives. They don't carry much authority: most of us probably will never make a decision based solely on something that we smell. Rather, the auxiliary senses are visceral, as if the information they receive is transferred directly to the heart, or perhaps the gut. Maybe this is why most people prefer to make love in the dark.
The brown creeper is a small, inconspicuous bird that spends most of its time foraging for insects on tree trunks. Its cryptic coloring -- drab brown mottled with gray and tan spots -- makes it easy to overlook: flat against a tree, the creeper appears more like an outgrowth of bark than a bird. I always thought that brown creepers were a rare species until I learned their song.
Six or seven notes is all, two or at the most three seconds of music. The first note is a low introduction, held for a couple of beats before the bird launches into a bouncy, jauntily whistled jig. The song ends with an accent, a flourished "yeah!" like a dance routine where the final step is planted with firm emphasis and the right arm extended forward into an exaggerated pose.
Once I learned their song, I realized that the woods are full of brown creepers. Their singing, especially when heard on a February cold, gray day, has the ability above all other sounds to reach inside of my soul. For me, the seven notes of the brown creeper's song contain the pure, undistilled essence of hope.
I have never been able to observe a brown creeper in the act of singing. I can only image this drab little creature, barely distinguishable from the tree to which it clings, pausing in his seeming eternal search for food to abruptly raise his head. The bird glances to the left and to the right: he takes in the snow-covered ground, the steely sky, the trees like death in their dormancy. But his body doesn't feel winter's cold or hunger. The little bird is dreaming ahead to spring: he's focused on thoughts of mating, of nesting, of new life. His eyes gleam, he raises his head higher and belts out the seven dancing notes of his song, those seven tingling chips that end with a flourish, the brown creeper's defiant laugh at the frozen face of winter.
Causes Louise Young Supports
articulation of indigenous rights (organization: Cultural Survival)
sustainable, renewable, and independent energy sources