When her Happily Ever After (HEA) dissolved in a Kramer-vs.-Kramer blowout divorce, my mom kinda checked out for a minute.

After a while of of zombie-mommy, my sister made a call and we were transported from a rented Houston apartment to the verdant, manicured oasis of my grandparents’ Northern New Jersey commuter town.

That was the first morning I woke up and felt safe.

Early morning sounds of neat suburbia breezed in through the windows: lawnmowers in the distance, the hollow pop of ball meeting racket from the neighbor’s backyard court, the steady drone of fuzzy bees.

And above all, the birdsong: the surgical slice of a blue jay’s call, the spiraling whistle of a red cardinal, and most comforting, the woodsy coo from the mourning doves.

That morning kicked off a few dozen more like it over a single, core-memory summer. The ah-ha part of learning to ride a bike, chasing fireflies, the adults on the lanai with their clinky drinks. But above all, the birdsong.

Maybe because that summer was an oasis of calm in a childhood of relative chaos, birdsong, specifically that classic symphony of suburban songbirds, triggers the feeling of being safe, cared for, comfortable, and calm.

Reliving this memory is my small, joyous way of commemorating the 52nd Earth Day on Friday.  

The first Earth Day was observed in 1970, kicking off a decade of pro-environmental U.S. legislation establishing the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act and more.

Today, Earth Day has become a global movement with events, protests, and rallies centered around climate change and the urgent need for action. 

And yet, it’s no secret.  The news is not great.

But cataclysmic events tend to push us finally to take meaningful action.  It took a literal river on fire to establish the Environmental Protection Agency.  And it took the threat of total irradiation of the Earth’s plants and animals to fix the ozone layer.

Maybe the precipice of despair is the point of conversion. The darkest hour, a prelude to the light.  Whatever the adage, we can’t lose hope

We can’t just go to sleep.

So, back to the birds.

There’s strong evidence to suggest that listening to birdsong has the dual effect of stimulating the cognitive mind, while relaxing the body.

Additionally, birdsong can help:

There are a few theories as to why. Maybe it’s an evolutionary response. Maybe it’s sense memory. 

For me, listening to that blend of jays, cardinals, and doves reminds me of that summer, of feeling relief and easy happiness. And a promise I made to myself to never stop caring, no matter what, even if the HEA is to be determined (TBD).

With Earth Day on the horizon, naturally, the climate crisis is screaming in all caps across my brain. This is a very HEA TBD situation we have here.

But keeping to the theme of greetings, earthling, let’s start small. 

Tiny steps:

Drink some water.
Stream some birdsong.

Because finding joy is for the birds. 👍