If you sit on the edge of Yesler Swamp on a foggy, winter’s morning, you might hear a piccolo song floating heavenward from deep in the woods. The song seems to come from all directions at once, until you feel surrounded by music. But the song doesn’t engulf you exactly – it is too fragile for that. It’s more like gossamer wings of sound tickling first one ear, then the other, caressing your cheek, then disappearing back into the mist.
You’re welcome to try to find the singer, but I must warn you he prefers to perform out of sight. If you follow his song, he may lure you deeper into the swamp, receding just out of view like a will o’ wisp until you would be lost forever, were it not for the boardwalk leading you safely home again.
This is our own Pacific Wren, the quickest singer in all the swamp. His notes come so fast, they sound almost like a continuous trill to us. But if you slow the song down electronically, you can hear how very complex and lyrical it is. Loud, too. If you were to put a Pacific Wren into a Xerox machine and press “enlarge” to chicken-size, the wren would sing louder than a crowing rooster. Longer-winded, too. Wrens can sing with both outgoing and incoming breaths, so they don’t have to stop until they’ve sung every last note they want to.
Here is a poem for you today, to honor our little maestro:
The wren of the swamp
sang a song just for me
alone on the trail
where no one could see.
There we danced with the wind
and time stood still.