Oh the Things We Heard!

August 13, 2018



At seven months, granddaughter Amelia is a jolly little soul, adaptable, socialized. Should she smile at you, guard your heart! Actually, it’s too late—you’re hers.



She can chug water from a juice cup. She is adept at ooching rapidly across the floor—crawling will come soon, unless she decides to skip that in favor of running. She is vocalizing as follows: raspberries, lip-bops, squeals, and the occasional statement of feeling, in low feminine tones. Soon she will say actual words.   And so, I’m filling her word bank: ‘Bench.’ ‘Car.’ ‘Jaybird.’ She gives no sign. But I know she hears me.



She has the gift of silence. Of quietude. For instance, this morning I put her in her outdoor swing, that sturdy plastic seat for one which her daddy hung from a steel cable between an oak and a pine. She loves this swing. She loves it so much that while it’s swinging with her in it, she grows intensely still. No shrieks of glee for this girl. On the contrary, she seems to go inward. Such a thoughtful, serious look in those eyes. So I left her to her sustained reflection, dropped down at the base of the oak with my back to the bark, and joined her in stillness.



Oh, the things we heard! Chortle of a red-bellied woodpecker. Several Jay statements: “Beedleyoop. Heebert Heebert. Jay Jay Jay!” The rolling trill of cicadas—did you know the male of this big-eyed insect has to shut down his hearing when trilling, lest he blow out his own eardrums? And all for love.



Best sound of all: Three Mississippi kites. I heard, I knew, up came my head, and there they were! Three gorgeously graceful raptors zooming about in the airspace high above, gobbling insects. When they’re not munching on bug life, they emit a high, thin whistle: pe-teew. They were hard at their work this morning. For some reason their cry, the sheer fact of them, elicited a ragged sob from me: for beauty, for the brief glory of life. Amelia regarded me. Silently. With what I would like to believe is deep understanding.



Then we went inside and chugged water from a communal juice cup. Then she lay upon my bosom and cried tragically for about a minute, then went stone asleep, thence murmuring into her crib, then up again in an hour, wreathed in smiles, playing peep-eye through the slats.



Author: Phoebe Dishman

Phoebe H. Dishman was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. An essayist and poet, she teaches adult Sunday school, compiles a monthly prayer calendar, edits the Big Thicket Association quarterly bulletin, and keeps a keen eye and ear open for birds.

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