Grace Notes

I was born and raised in a city. The noises outside my window were sirens, car horns, and garbage trucks, but I rarely heard them because I was used to the traffic as background noise. When I moved to the suburbs, crickets would keep me awake. Now, at first light, which is way earlier than I need to be awake, I hear the birds. We are in the season between shutting windows against the cold and shutting windows against the heat. Here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland the season of open windows is brief and, except for the pollen which covers every surface in the house, to be savored.

I am not knowledgeable enough to distinguish among the birds, but I recognize the robins and doves, and sometimes the harsher sounds of ducks and geese. For some reason, I have always called the birds' songs “grace notes.” Perhaps it is because every morning is a gift. I have lived another day. I can swing my feet over the bed and get up with only minor ached and pains. I have family and friends and a purpose in life.  I can listen to the birds’ music in peace.



I have no idea how the term “grace notes” came to me, but this morning I decided to look it up and see if it meant anything to anyone else. I was pleased to discover that “grace notes” are a form of musical ornamentation! Perhaps somewhere in the distant past I actually learned this.

I will admit to wishing on some mornings that the birds were not providing this form of embellishment and that I could retreat back into sleep. But even then, I remind myself that the birds are awakening me to the possibility of grace. I do not mean grace in the religious sense, but as an opportunity to find meaning and beauty around me. I will savor each note until it is time to close the windows again.