Start again

I saw this beautiful stained glass in a shop in Bar Harbor, Maine, June 2012

I saw this beautiful stained glass in a shop in Bar Harbor, Maine, June 2012

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say

Leonard Cohen

I can’t recall a single time when hearing the birds singing did not lift my spirits.  Sometimes they sound cheerful and perky, sometimes insistent, almost alarmed, but they never sound depressing.  Birdsong goes perfectly with the other delights that often accompany it: soft breezes, sunshine, or the cool dusk falling as late afternoon becomes evening.  Sometimes it’s the trill of a single bird against the quiet, other times it’s an amazingly loud chorus creating a wonderful din, but always they communicate to me the wonderful persistence that confirms my optimism is not unfounded.  As much as any other animal, birds defeat despair.  Listen for their singing and be blessed!


  1. Good Post.

    • Thank you, I am so happy you like it! I appreciate your visits to my blog.

  2. Sheila

    Good early morning, Julia. What a most beautiful stained glass! It’s beauty, your words, and the poem make me excited about this day. Before I even got out of bed, our house was still dark and quiet, and I heard my early morning cardinal, greeting the day. I could only say,”Thank you, Lord!” I hope Jeff is doing well. Sheila

    • Thank you Sheila, when I got to the mailbox last night the lovely magazine was waiting for me :-). I didn’t have time to read it but I did flip through it and was very happy to see the article about the drama The Lost Colony. Jeff and I have been saying for years that we want to go see it; perhaps we will make time this year. In the meantime, I will enjoy reading about it, as I will the rest of the magazine. Thanks so much for sending it! Jeff is doing fairly well and insisted on going to work today; he was gone by 6:00 am this morning. He hates to miss work and always feels as if he needs to catch up quickly. I hope that one of the silver linings to the dark cloud of his illness, will be that he learns to enjoy relaxing a bit more! We both feel very hopeful now, though – thanks so much for your kind thoughts and prayers!

      • Sheila

        Julia, those prayers for Jeff, for needed strength, certainly seem to be heard. The magazine cover reminded me of your post on April 6th, “After Ecstasy”. Although, it isn’t the most current publication, I thought you might enjoy. I’m listening for more birds. I always have Walter! Sheila

        • Yes, we are so thankful that our prayers are being answered. I loved the clothesline picture on the magazine cover! I hardly ever see a clothesline anymore. Give my greetings to Walter! Do you ever try to teach words to him?

  3. At my parents’ place there is a bird’s nest near the window. We can clearly see their activities and one can never get bored watching them. Their twittering sound is so soothing. Let them add music to your days. And what a lovely stained glass! Couldn’t take my eyes off the details..

    • Thanks Bindu, I am glad we were traveling to Maine via airplane or I might have been tempted to buy that stained glass even though I have no place to hang it! The robins build nests in the shrubs outside our window and I love watching them come and go. One thing I hope to do someday is learn to recognize the various bird calls and know which bird makes which sounds. There are places online now where one can listen to samples so it should be fairly easy to do; the hard part will be making the time! Thanks for being here today; I hope you have a lovely day!

  4. Beautifully said, Julia. I can hear the birds singing now (it’s almost 6 am here). I love that Leonard Cohen song as well.

    One of my favorite quotes: Pain and Suffering

    Pain in life is inevitable but suffering is not. Pain is what the world does to you, suffering is what you do to yourself. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

    • Wow, thanks for that quote; I have never heard it. I might have to use it here sometime. It really is true that we can make our circumstances better or worse by how we think about them; that part of it lies within our control, although it’s still hard to exercise that control at times. I do love that song too; in fact, one of my favorite posts here features a quote from that same song. Thanks for being here!

      • Life dealt you a heavy hand and you manage it with grace and strength. I have tremendous admiration for you.

        My oldest son is on the Spectrum. He is doing so well now but we had years and years of struggles to sort out his challenges, find the right professionals, the right school. Lots of tears and angst, but I never gave up. I wrote an essay that I’m happy to share if you’re interested. Sending caring thoughts your way, Julia.

        • Alys, thanks so much for your kind and caring words. I would love to see your essay. If it’s online, just send me a link or if you prefer, you can send it as an email attachment to – however, be sure to let me know it’s coming so I can look for it; I’ve been dropping lost of balls lately and forget to check my spam filter, which seems to be accumulating more messages recently. Success for our children who have atypical gifts is so dependent on finding the right school or job placement and the right supports, and these are different from person to person, so what works well for one may be a nightmare for others. It’s no different for any of us, but our kids with disabilities often need help finding their place. I’m convinced that almost anyone will thrive given the right environment. Since we’ve had to move frequently, that’s been challenging; about the time Matt is settled and doing well, we have to move and start over! “Lots of tears and angst” is a great way to describe it, but that’s also true of life, I find. That’s why I try deliberately to focus on the good and celebrate the blessings. Thanks for being here!

  5. I applaud your marvelous ability to string words together in such a manner that they “sing”!
    Listening to birdsong reminds me to praise our Heavenly Father. Thank you for the beauty you paint w/ words! Love and prayers, MaryAnn

    • Thanks so much MaryAnn! I am always happy to hear from you because you are so generous with your kind words and encouragement!

  6. I sat outside yesterday listening to the birds sing while I wrote my blog post. Fun how God uses creation to guide our thoughts and uplift our spirits. 🙂

    • Barb I need to get over to your blog soon! I do think God talks to us through the things he has made. (Romans 1:20) Sometimes when things are going horribly bad, just sitting outside for a few minutes is very healing. I remember once when Matt was very sick, I would try to make some time to sit in my outdoor swing each day; it felt like the grass, trees and birds were all God saying “I love you and I love the earth and all creation” over and over again.

  7. I usually love bird song, apart from this one time when we were camping and a mocking bird had perfected a 4 tone car alarm. The bird sang that all night, drove us crazy lol

    • Oh, my– I can imagine that would be very annoying! Despite their descriptive name, I only recently learned the mockingbirds literally do mock other sounds, although I imagined these would usually be other birds! I can easily imagine that bird thinking “I’ll give these campers a taste of their own noise!” Thanks for sharing this funny story!

  8. Sheila

    Julia, I gave Walter your greetings. He acknowledges attention usually with his signature call of ” Eck-Eck”. He follows commands like, “Give me kiss” and “Ring your bell”. I always hoped he would say “Holy Moly” for his namesake, Walter Matthau. I’m waiting for a post with a fish or aquatic theme. Need I say more? I’m smiling, hope you are! Sheila

    • Sheila, YES I am smiling! My Daddy once knew a guy who taught his bird (if my memory is correct it was a Mynah bird) to say “Birds can’t talk!” whenever anyone asked him to say something. Thanks for the idea on the post! I stay scheduled ahead of time, so it will be a couple of weeks, probably. Fair warning, it will be more “aquatic” than “fish” but it’s in the ballpark. Let’s see, you didn’t miss my monkey post, did you? 🙂

      • Sheila

        Julia, I assure you that I Do NOT have a monkey. My salt water aquarium is home to two clown fish, “Mr. and Mrs.” since 1989. They survived Hurricane Hugo; definitely my storm troopers. My fish keeper says it’s unheard of for fish to live so long! Clown fish have been renamed “Nemo” fish since the popular movie.

        • Aw, shucks, Sheila, I LOVE monkeys! But I’ve heard they are not good as pets. Believe it or not I had never heard of a clown fish but I haven’t seen Nemo either. Maybe our grandson due in July will get me back into Disney mode. I love aquariums, they are so mesmerizing and calming to watch. But I’ve never owned one. We did have some goldfish for awhile and even moved them across the country successfully when we moved to California! But then left them in the care of a friend when we went travelling and that was the end of them :-(. Since they were our first family pets, it was pretty sad.

  9. My family has a clock that chirps a different bird song every hour. It was quite a treat. But not as nice as the real thing.

    • That would be really fun! Are the chirps matched up with the times? (nightingale, lark, etc.?) I wonder if it ever keeps people up at night? Back when our cuckoo clock was still working, we got used to it and could sleep through it, but it was pretty rough on guests – we had to silence it at night!

      • I don’t know if the chirps match the times. But, it doesn’t chirp in the dark (thankfully).

  10. one thing that i love about where i live is the sweet chorus from the songbirds here along the river. the waterbirds croak and whimper and chirp all night long, but they’re not intrusive sounds.

    that window is GORGEOUS!

    • Do you have lots of brightly colored tropical birds there? I have this idea that South America is the bird capital of the world, but I don’t know how accurate that is. I’m guessing their songs are different from North American birds too. Yes, that window was so pretty I would have been tempted to buy it if we had been traveling by car, but luckily we were not! I’ve missed having the time to visit your blog; now that Jeff is home from the hospital with a few weeks before he has to go back, maybe I’ll have time to catch up! Thanks for being here.

      • Wait a minute, I’m getting confused…you don’t live in Ecuador now, do you? I think you are in Costa Rica? Probably Central America has a lot of tropical birds too, though?

      • we have amazing birds here! mindo, about 8 hours east of where i live, always places first or second in the annual audubon christmas bird count with over 400 species! from the deck of my house near the ocean, i have a count of 60-something, and i haven’t even tried to identify many of the little birds that flit in the undergrowth, and i ‘ve not started counting hummingbirds either! it’s truly amazing, between the songbirds and the water birds.

        i hope that the longer days and warmer temps give jeff more strength as he recovers from his time in the hospital. it must feel good to have the short days of winter behind and the promise of springtime.


        • Lucky you! So my impression is not off base; all the birds really do flock to the south! They are almost as much fun to watch as they are to listen to, and especially when they are so brightly colored and varied in appearance. Yes, the longer days and sunshine are a tremendous boost to both Jeff and me. Believe it or not, he went back to work yesterday. Not surprising to anyone who knows him, but this was a minor procedure compared to the big surgery coming up in less than 3 weeks. The promise of springtime is in perfect tune with our rising hopes. Thanks for being here!

          • let us know a few days before the big surgery so that all of us can direct special healing prayers to all of you.

            How true and poetic: ” The promise of springtime is in perfect tune with our rising hopes. ”

            • Will do! Thanks so much for your concern, comments and visits here – it’s a real blessing!

  11. I had to read you post to the hubby tonight Julia, it’s as lyrical as the birdsong outside my window. You convey your thoughts with such poise, I always enjoy time spent here. I whole heartedly agree, you can not be sad, blue, angry, impatient or in despair if you have a bird song within earshot. It’s a blessing to the day that always makes me sigh and think there is hope for our poor broken down planet.

    • This is another one of those things Mary Poppins was right about – I love the second verse of “Spoonful of Sugar” where she talks about the Robin singing as she works. I don’t know why birds sound so perky and upbeat, but they always do, even when there’s an angry tone to their chirping (which is rare).

      • So many messages in Mary Poppins, who of course I love and adore. It’s coming back to Edmonton Mary 2014. I might have mentioned we drove all the way to Portland for my 50th Birthday to see it, but we may go again next spring 😀

        • I hope you do get to go. It’s a wonderful story! For me, its messages never grow old. I read a quote recently that I really liked: “Never complain, never explain” and of course I thought immediately of Mary Poppins! I need to learn to do less of both!

  12. I love your message and I agree, the melodies of birds singing, always brings a smile to grace my face with their radiance! Have a beautiful and blessed weekend Julia!

    • Thank you Wendell! I hope you have a lovely weekend.


  1. Part of the silence | Defeat Despair

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