February 9, 2008

Gilly's mockingbird

The day before Gillian touched down at RSW, a young mockingbird claimed a branch in my back yard outside my bedroom lanai. A talented juvenile, he forthwith began testing his oratory skills and developing the first flourishes in what will no doubt be a formidable bag of vocal tricks. He sang us to sleep last Sunday night.

The mockingbird is Florida's state bird, a songster nonpareil. The troubadors have no fixed, traditional song. Instead they make it up as they go along, picking up inspiration from everything they hear, a string of endless variations, rarely the same phrase twice, exuberant and gorgeous. The mockingbird figures memorably into southern literature, To Kill A Mockingbird, of course, and Ambrose Bierce's haunting civil war short story The Mocking-bird. I wrote a poem about one.

Here's a sample of the youngster's stuff. He's getting better all the time. He'll soon be spouting the long, arching arias for which they're renowned and loved, and taking his act to the daylight hours and the mating big time. I suspect he'll be passing his talent along to his own little Lucianos come summer.