Saturday, July 14, 2007

Little Voices

As I write, it is just a few minutes before sunrise. I’m about 3,000 miles away from home, sitting on a porch outside my friend’s home near Georgetown, Kentucky. I am here to mix business with pleasure, fulfilling my job requirement to spend 40 hours per quarter running ambulance calls with a busier EMS system to maintain my clinical skills while enjoying a visit with an old and dear friend.

My friend lives on a farm, well out of town, and as I reflect I can hear songbirds in all directions. A worried wren pokes her head out of her nest box, no more than 10 feet from where I sit. Like a new sled dog, she isn’t sure yet that I’m to be trusted, so she peeks out to watch, evaluating my body language, and then ducks back inside to reassure her chicks.

There is promise of a muggy day. Ground fog obscures the view up the valley yet above the sky looks as clear as can be. At the moment it is comfortable, but within a couple of hours I suspect it will turn hot and muggy, exactly the opposite of what an Alaskan from the Interior is accustomed to.

Songbirds call from all four directions, at least 7 different species. They are foreign to my ears, yet also familiar, friendly sounds of a natural world. Meanwhile a gaggle of crows are fighting over some tidbit down on the road. Perhaps a cottontail rabbit or squirrel, can even be deer for they are plentiful in this area. Whatever it is, it is no doubt the remains of a victim of a late night traveler.

I hear another wild song, so subtle as to be inaudible to the human ear, yet shouting in the depths of my soul. It is the spirit of the Great Land, calling to me, reminding me that I am far away from home. She reminds me that my dogs need my attention, especially the yearlings that make up such a large percentage of the Stardancer team. She reminds me that my alleged lawn needs tending, that I have more fences to build, a sled to repair, berries to pick, fish to catch, people to visit and enjoy. She reminds me that even though this is a beautiful, pleasant place to sit and sip my coffee it is not where I belong.

As the sun breaks over the horizon a golden glow tries to break through the fog, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. It reminds me of golden hour at home and I find myself peering through the fog for a glimpse at a distant mountain that just doesn’t exist down here. I catch myself scanning the perimeter of my friend’s yard, keeping a wary eye open for the grizzly bear that I know I can not see in this foreign place.

I can hear the lure the little voices that poet Robert Service wrote of, early in the twentieth century and like the protagonist of his poem, I can not ignore them.

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