The call of the chickadee

The cry of the loon, the howl of the wolf, the hiss of the startled rattlesnake – I’ve heard all these calls of the wild, and others in their dozens.

But for me it’s the cry of the chickadee that speaks most eloquently of nature’s loving embrace.

Who comes first to the feeder in the fall? Who’s the friendly face of the woods on a sunny day in late wintertime? Who comes boldly to an outstretched human hand full of sunflower seed, when no other creature would dare approach?

None but the black-capped chap with the chipper chirp and the cheery disposition.

‘Chickadee-dee-dee-dee-dee’, comes the spritely salutation, followed by a flutter of little wings. Suddenly the bushes nearby are alive with spirit, and we’re no longer alone in the winter woods.

Chickadee-dee-dee-dee-dee! Chickadee-dee-dee-dee-dee!

It was the first bird song I ever learned, and the last I’ll ever forget.

It’s a song my mother loved, at the feeder, on the deck, at our home in the woods around Parry Sound.

It’s a song my grandmother cared for, with the sap pails and spiles, in a sugar bush along a dirt road north of Sault Ste. Marie.

It’s a song my daughter knows now too, from our excursions into the edge of the great frontier we can still reach in our time.

The call of the chickadee. It’s not the call of the wild.

It’s the call of the comfort of home.

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