Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • Ich freue mich, dass ich mich an das Schöne
    Und an das Wunder nie gewöhne.
    Dass alles so erstaunlich bleibt, und neu!
    Ich freu mich, dass ich ... Dass ich mich freu.
    --Mascha Keleko (1912-1975)

    Dear Diary,

    Today I found myself struck by spontaneous beauty.

    Murmuration. The word alone entrances me.

    As I was on my way to meet a good friend for dinner at a newish wine bar on the far edge of the neighborhood in a semi-industrial area filled with tire places and body shops I happened to look up at the sky and see a murmuration. The sky was clear, the sun was starting to set, and the sight thrilled me.

    Ironically, the birds were moving in this gorgeous harmonious dancelike manner a block or so away from an extremely hectic traffic artery---Atlantic Avenue that connects Brooklyn and Queens and is the most common route to take to JFK Airport. In the rush hour madness it's doubtful that many drivers looked up to observe this surprising vision.

    As I turned onto the street that led me the last few blocks to the restaurant I could still gaze up and follow the birds' compulsive swaying trajectory. I thought I'd read somewhere that only starlings fly in murmurations, but these seemed to be pigeons. Who knew that pigeons had this kind of intelligence??

    Once I met my friend I completely forgot about the birds. The two of us had a lot of catching up to do over the course of the next three hours. She told me about her latest Sierra Club trail work adventures, this time in Alaska. The trail workers' camp was surrounded by bears, moose, and linxes daily. Vicki described how it was at once exciting and frightening encountering these wild animals. Besides this, they had opportunities to view the northern lights. The nights up there were generally brief (the sun mostly set at 10:30pm!), and she had trouble sleeping because temperatures dropped to below freezing overnight. Hearing Vicki's stories about the Alaskan wilderness filled me with a sense of amazement too.

    Then as we left the wine bar we experienced what seemed practically an echo of the earlier murmuration: two doors down a group of people were gathered under an impromptu structure playing dozens of steel drums. Calypso dreams, expressions of a deep desire to sychronize and move and play in harmony. I wanted to contain the utter lushness of the sounds emerging from those drums, but that was impossible. Were they rehearsing for the upcoming annual Labor Day Caribbean parade?

    Again I was captivated by unexpectedly beautiful sychronicity. As with the birds, I longed to get closer, join in, merge so integrally with the dance.

    Some days you never know what will fill you wonder. How, though, to truly take it in and stay open to it? As the lines from the Mascha Kaleko poem above intimate, may we delight that we'll never get used to the beautiful and wonderful things in life, that they'll always remain somehow new and astonishing.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.