The Marsh Melody

7. The Marsh Melody.jpg

For Celia Gene Williamson, in my novel CeeGee’s Gift, the marsh is the place where she can just be. Here she can shake off the troubles and challenges of her young life like water off a dog’s back. The marsh brings her peace through the music it makes. From the squishing of the turtles in the mud along the shore, to the frogs croaking, from many varieties of birds chirping in the grasses, to the soft breeze stirring the cattails. Each of these are lines of a melody that blend together into a symphony of soothing, peaceful sounds.

I remember travelling to New Zealand and being told by our guides that the islands had once been lush with bird sound, but predatory animals had hidden on ships traveling from distant shores and they escaped into the wilds of New Zealand. The native birds, like the kiwis, nested on the ground and had no defense against the rats and possums that attacked them and ate their eggs. The native bird population dropped drastically.

In order to protect the birds, the people of New Zealand designated a small island, Tiritiri Matangi, as a sanctuary for them. They made a low fence around the shore, planted trees and created open space for ground nesting birds. Visitors stepped in a pan to sanitize their shoes before going onshore, to make sure nothing harmful to the island came with them. The New Zealanders also added rare species of birds in hopes of saving them as well. On this remote island, the birds were safe to nest and breed. And sing.

We had seen wonderful landscapes and wildlife on the islands, and we thought New Zealand represented the best of nature’s bounty—until we stepped on that tiny island and heard the joyous symphony of these rescued birds. It was an overwhelming blend of melodies and drove everything out of our minds except that bright music. Sometimes you do not know what you have lost until you bring it back. Do you, or did you once, have your own place of peace. Is there a place that taught you its magical melody?