Submitted below is the Heart Song chapter Tom Jenks challenged me to reduce to a paragraph. I will circle back in the next few weeks with my attempt at doing such, however, for now please enjoy the story in its more primitive form.
As a child I often went on runs with my father – well he ran; I biked. I cherished these outings because as one of five kids it was rare to get one-on-one time with my dad. Nature had this way of bringing out his softer side. He liked stopping in front of trees and plants to explain to me their names, what regions they grew in, or how to to identify them by their leaves or flowers. His knowledge base seemed vast and varied – much more so than my science teacher at school – and when he explained things, he did it in such a way that I became captivated and fascinated. He normally ran on the abandoned train tracks behind our house. A creek flowed alongside it, sometimes overflowing and fast, other times shallow and trickling. As a seven-year-old, I enjoyed listening to the speed of the water as it moved over the rocks. When it was fast I peddled at full sprint for as long as I could, blowing past my dad yelling, “See ya later, gator.” And when it was lazy, I leaned back, kicking up my legs, looping my bike in a snake-like fashion. It was one of those types of days when my father called me over. “Hey, Squirt. Turn around and come here.”
I turned my handlebars back towards my dad, who was standing under a maple tree with his finger to his lips, the same motion my teachers made in class when they wanted us to be quiet. I pulled my bike right in front of him and placed my feet on the pavement. “What?” I asked.
“Shhhh…just close your eyes and listen.”
I did as I was told. Although I had no idea what I was listening for, the anticipation and enveloping darkness excited me. Above in the tree I heard leaves rustling and then a high-pitched bird call that grew in volume and insistence. “chirr…Chirr…CHIRR…”
“Keep your eyes closed, Belle. Keep listening.” I stayed in the middle of the path with my legs outstretched for a while, just listening to the bird repeat his call. I remember thinking it was a beautiful song, almost like its own language, even though I couldn’t understand the lyrics. “CHIRR… Chirr… chirr…” There was another bird singing back from a good distance away. The bird above me replied back, singing a slightly different tune. This went back and forth for a while. Each time I noticed the other bird’s call getting closer until I heard the flap of wings right above my head along with more leaf rustling. My dad crouched down by my side and whispered, “Okay, Squirt. Open up your eyes.”
A Warrior Princess