#633: American Lyric

May 13th, 2016

The white-throated sparrow is a migratory songbird that passes through Chicago in the spring and again in the fall. Its chirp sounds like “Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada,” according to the Chicago Botanic Garden website, so maybe that wasn’t the bird that greeted me in the morning.

But I like the bird all the same, the little tree-mice whose songs trickle from the skies, even in a city.

The black squirrel isn’t its own species. It’s technically a “morph,” meaning it’s a form of the common gray squirrel.

“They’re gray squirrels that happen to have black fur,” an ecologist told the Chicago Tribune in 2014.

There’s a small population of them in the region surrounding Welles Park, regular happy little tree-hoppers who happen to be a velvety black. One of them greeted me in the morning too.

Maybe not “greeted,” more “eyed me warily for a moment, then continued to poke the ground with his nose, I suppose scouting for seeds.” I liked that guy a lot.

The human being is a nasty, ill-formed little species whose primary concerns include breeding, talking about breeding, watching online videos of attractive people in various states of breeding and pretending to know more about baseball than they actually do now that the Cubs and Sox are winning.

They don’t have velvety black fur or trickle down bittersweet calls of “Canada” from the leaves, but I quite like this species too. When they’ll let me.

It’s morally wrong to me to consider us above migratory birds, skittering black squirrels or even the rats, leeches, spiders and other of the nastier (to us) bits of life. We do what they do, just call our termite heaps “cities” and our species-typical behavior patterns “society.”

Birds sing, squirrels bound and humans make war and check Facebook when they’re supposed to be working.

But I like them all the same. When they’ll let me.

It’s a short post today, and a bit of a nonsensical one. But a beautiful spring day will do that to you when you live in a city and still manage to get greeted by a songbird and squirrel. It reminds you that, even though we’re buried deep within this termite heap of concrete, car horns and buildings, we’re not the only ones here.

Read about the sparrow

Read about the squirrel

Read why I called them tree-mice

Join my campaign to declare myself a sandwich

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