The Little Hermit Thrush

Around my garden, hermit thrush are nesting for the season, singing their enchanting melodies, amazingly pure and piercing sounds from a bird so small it’s a handful of feathers and bone. The thrush is not a songbird from my childhood. As an adult, backpacking along the spine of the Vermont’s Green Mountains and sleeping outside, I first heard these unmistakable notes, and here, at this house on the edge of forest, these birds became my companions.

Now the thrush’s song has been a litany through my adult life, from before I become a mother to watching my children grow up. The birds lived here before I planted a garden, and no doubt will remain, long after my work with a hoe and spade have ceased.

Morbid? I don’t think so. There’s a real grace to be gathered here, listening to these symphonies of tiny songbirds – admission gratis. These mating calls are an audible tapestry that renders time not so sparse and dear but stretches it out into an immense arc of infinity. Sing on!

Nothing’s certain….

Watching, we drop to listen,
a hermit thrush distills it: fragmentary,
hesitant, in the end what source
links to wonder….

– Amy Clampitt, “A Hermit Thrush”

Woodbury, Vermont, twilight


By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

1 comment

  1. Ah, the hermit thrush–one of my favorites as well. Did you know…The hermit thrush is the state bird of Vermont? And, Walt Whitman considered the hermit thrush as a symbol of the American voice, poetic and otherwise…

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