by John Francis Steffen
Recently one of the cardinals in my back yard performed a unique variation on his usual song.? I was fortunate enough to be outside at the time, tying basil plants for drying. As I stood listening to his melody I recollected an experience I had had many years ago while traveling south on the Oregon coast highway.
It was one of those times in my youth when I felt particularly alone, somewhat forlorn, and hankering for solace and understanding.? On a whim, I decided to follow the road into the National Forest as I knew it led to a parking lot high above the shoreline that offered a spectacular view of the hidden beaches and jagged rocky outcroppings to the south. The silence of the mighty forest was profound, and as I ascended the footpath, I stopped for a moment to listen to the distant lull of the ocean.?
At the time I was an itinerant musician and had in my repertoire several a cappella songs, one of which I decided to sing into the wind and the woods. In the midst of my noise a small bird landed on a branch no less than eight feet from where I stood.? As soon as I completed my bellowing, the young avian began his edification, proving to me that I was not the only creature in the forest that had the capacity for a tune.? As soon as he was finished he was gone with a blur.? I stood in the recovering silence, knowing I had just experienced a divine moment and remembered we are never alone in nature.
John Francis Steffen is a retired fundraiser and of late a student of fiction and poetry at the University of Mississippie in Oxford, Mississippi. Although unpublished save an article or two some decades ago, he is now in the process of recreating himself for the 60th time with the dream of publishing a book of memoirs.