An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of June 19, 2016
Issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort adjoining
Chichén Itzá Ruin, Yucatán, Mexico

ROBINS & HAWKS

I first arrived at Hacienda Chichen in late 2009, and stayed until late 2012. While I was gone, sometimes I liked to remember how pleasant it'd been in the Hacienda's thatch-top, pole-walled, dirt-floored Naturalist-hut. One of the most agreeable times of all had been at dawn and dusk during those weeks of the year when untold numbers of Clay-colored Robins -- also called Clay-colored Thrushes -- called at the same time. A gently effervescing, ebbing and flowing but unceasing ocean of soft melodies, chortlings, burblings, trills, mews and whistles all made a sweet music that made you smile and want to listen. Pictures and plenty of text about the plain-looking but sublimely melodious robin/thrush are at http://www.backyardnature.net/mexnat/turdgray.htm

Here the Clay-colored Robins' callings are at their peak now, and I keep telling the tourists and reminding myself how special and beautiful it is.

And yet, also from time to time a kind of blood-curdling snarl erupts from a dead snag in an abandoned field far beyond the robins' woods. It's the local Gray Hawk, and I have to admit that his call, in its own way, is just as appropriate, just as evocative, and just as worthy of admiration as the robins' calls.

In fact, at certain stages of my life, I identified most with the hawk's snarl, and might have found the robins' calls pleasant but monotonous, and in general not harmonious with my wandering-viking spirit of that time. Even at my age now, if I lived in a vast suburb of look-alike houses with myself and everyone I knew stuck in exhausting, narrow, unfulfilling routines, maybe I'd feel so repressed and wasted that I'd favor the hawk snarl, and fantasize about attack and destroy. But, if I lived in a loud, crime-ridden inner city, probably I'd habitually crave the robins' daily meditations, the same calm, peaceable melodies repeated again and again.

So, that's interesting. We have two opposite birdsong moods, and we humans can be flexible enough to prefer one extreme over the other, and sometimes like both extremes at the same time.

Also, it seems to me that normally when a person invariably craves just one extreme of anything over its opposite state, either it's because that individual still is very young and "going through phases," or else it's because of an imbalance in that person's life, or a feature of that person's personality that diverges considerably from that of average people. In my experience, when the average healthy, mature person acquires enough experience of the world, and has enjoyed enough time and personal space to reflect on matters, that person automatically comes to think of the robins' warblings and the hawk's snarl as equally beautiful and good to hear, just beautiful in different ways.

Moreover, it seems that this general principle applies to untold numbers of pairs of opposites, not just robins and hawks, and not just things but also abstractions. Maybe it's a kind of natural law that when an evolving sentient being matures in an environment permitting introspection and general cogitation, the tendency to assign "good" and "bad" tags to members of opposite pairs changes to a whole new system of seeing the world.

In this new system, when one beholds opposite situations, one just says, "Oh, so that's how it is. How interesting. And, maybe, in the broad view of things, how pretty... "