My ode to a Nightingale

A friend once told me where I could go and listen to a Nightingale singing in the early evenings. It meant a slight detour on my way home from work but having never heard one of nature’s most renowned songsters before; I felt it was worth it. Another friend had said to me that after a stressful day at work, they sometimes got home and listened to Nightingale song to de-stress. I had just experienced my own particularly challenging day at work and was hopeful that I too might be able to test out its rejuvenating effects for myself.

That particular evening luck was not on my side. I thought I had heard a few scratches of song drift past me, but nothing tangible enough to fully acknowledge the presence and power. The following evening I decided to have another go and this also came after another stressful day at work. It was a stuffy evening, of the kind that gives you a bit of a headache. I had positioned myself on a picnic bench adjacent to a patch of dense scrub the size of a small house I waited for ten minutes, nothing, twenty minutes and still nothing. This was where I had been told to go, the best spot, maybe it wasn’t to be.

Then it came. Too often we try to attach our own adjectives to sounds and experiences. It really is impossible to do this with the Nightingale as it genuinely is a sublime sound – bubbly and uplifting, powerful and true. I did it then, tried to attach superlatives to something I can’t describe. If I could recommend one single birdsong to experience when you are feeling down then Nightingale song would be top of the list. I have been back to the same spot at the same time of the year many times. It is somewhere that I know I can go when I want to be on my own, immersed and wrapped up in one of the most beautiful sounds of nature.

After a horrendous day at work once, I went back to that same bench and sat. There was no sound this time and although despondent that I couldn’t close my eyes and soak the song up, something else equally as magical happened. I found myself at eye level with a bird I didn’t recognise, drab, long-tailed, sleek and plainly beautiful. I realised that it was the evening soloist himself, the Nightingale. I looked at him and he looked at me, croaked and then turned round, disappearing back into the foliage. It was a fleeting moment where we both just knew.

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