In the predawn hours I watch the sky, the small distant suns, of Orion and Canis Major shining above the southern horizon. I can easily imagine a planet among them on the surface of which someone is standing alone in a clearing trying to teach himself to whistle.
- from River Notes by Barry Lopez
I don't know the names of the constellations, but can picture swords and their heroes, helmets and victory as clearly as I know my son will dream them. I'm at the river again. To the right the Mississippi and the Minnesota combine their strength and move forward past me. The current is hypnotic, the lapping waves a reminder of change. To the left it curves to the right and disappears. It is a place to come where no one cares what I sound like. I practice curling my lips and tongue, trying to convince the body I already know how. To make a noise, soft but true, one day becoming music, is the point of it all. If I am getting closer it is because I have learned the important thing - that I am to learn it. Children understand. Takes longer for some of us.
I looked up this morning and saw the last of the night fade into dawn. A poem ran through my head then out and into the woods. And on that star, I thought, someone is whistling a beautiful song, and the people who hear it are smiling.