The blackbirds are back. They’re one of the real harbingers of spring, their trilling song reminding us of long, lazy summer days ahead. As many of us are, I’m prompted lately to reflect back upon the year that is just past, now just over a year since The Day Everything Changed, which in my books is March 13, 2021. It was around that time that I just stopped singing. There was no song in my heart, I was so full of grief that I couldn’t even imagine a time when I might want to sing again.

Months passed. I started to think 1) that this nightmare would never end and 2) that singing might be over for me for good. That I may just not want to do it anymore. And then the days got longer, and we sort of got used to the isolation and even found ways to mitigate it (we could go for walks with friends, we could have bonfires outside with people, we could form cycling groups). We adapted and pivoted and adapted some more. And gradually, I felt the need again to connect with my voice and rediscover it. And I’ve continued on that journey, up and down, ever since.

In Germany, where I lived for many years, the blackbirds don’t have red wings. Their song is also not the same as our red-winged blackbirds here. But one thing is true: they are among the first to sing in the morning and the last to sing in the evening. They perch on the highest spot they can find: a rooftop, a treetop, and sing as though their lives depended on it. They sing and sing and sing. For the sheer joy of it. And now and again, I do that too. The red-winged blackbird I saw this morning reminds me that this too shall pass, and that singing is joyful in and of itself. Not for any glory or gain, but just because I can.