I don’t know what kind of bird it is, but I know it when I hear it. The complicated, eight-syllable melody blanketed the springs and summers of childhood, seeping through the leaves of the katsura tree just outside the bedroom window intermittently from dawn to dusk, where it blended with crickets. Now my son hears it, although not quite as frequently because we live in a small city with a higher ratio of people to birds.
I lived for a year in coal country and didn’t think about this birdsong once. But when I returned to New England, the first time I heard it, I knew I was home.
This is why Mitt Romney’s famous, scorned comment about “trees are the right height” didn’t faze me. In a campaign characterized by failure to connect, this comment was gleefully pounced on by talking heads who are having all too easy a time making fun of the sorry-ass muffin-heads posturing as 2012 GOP candidates. Romney is a dork, there’s no doubt about it. But this particular comment made sense in a funny way. Sometimes it’s the little things that tell you when you’re home.