A robin that was hop-hop-hopping along on a cold November morning espied me looking at a pink rose that had opened in full defiance of the weather, and said, “A lovely day to be singing and dancing, is it not?”
“I am thankful for the day, and your ebullience; and for all the stories you carry on your little wings,” I answered.
“It is the little things in life that matter, after all,” the robin continued. “Look at this Mexican elderberry. Its roots are old and weak, but still it rejoices in every butterfly that flits by, and every cloud that passes overhead. Even in infirmity, it gathers all its strength to put forth clusters of white blossoms for our enjoyment.”
“I, too, am thankful for all the little things. Why, just moments ago, I saw you with your partner performing a ballet in the air. Your flight was perfectly harmonized, as if you knew exactly what was in your partner’s thoughts. That’s a little miracle, is it not?”
“Everything is a miracle,” the robin answered.
“How true,” I said. “A peacock’s feather, a mynah’s song, and a rainbow in the sky — they all stirred strong emotions in my heart when I was only so tall. I knew then that the world had height, and I wanted to touch every aspect of it that was covered in new light.”
I remembered Cato’s soliloquy on the immortality of the soul: “If there is a Power above us, — and that there is, all Nature cries aloud through all her works — He must delight in virtue; and that which He delights in must be happy.”
Across the street, two children came out of their home with springs in their steps, and started playing hopscotch on the sidewalk. The squares on the ground were drawn with flamboyant chalk, and the diagram was a winged bird as tall as the sky.
“I am thankful for children, too,” I said, “for they have pure eyes and pure minds.”
“The tragedy of growing up,” the robin posited, “is that we lose the child in us. Real maturity happens when we rediscover that lost child. It is only for the second child that the sky opens out its charms.”
“Yes indeed,” I said. “Through recovered innocence alone we see the world anew in all its rightful glory.”
An army of white, billowy clouds marched across the sky, waving the flag of man’s accomplishments, from the fire in the cave to the fire across the universe.
“I go from here to there chasing seasons, and I do not know quite how it happens. Much has been accomplished, and much yet needs to be done,” said the robin.
I thought about the perfect ellipse of the earth’s orbit that makes all life possible. I thought about the peculiar dance of water’s density near freezing that keeps the lower strata of ponds and lakes safe for marine life. I thought about the magnet in the hummingbird’s brain that brings it to my yard every spring. I thought about the wonders that remain wonders long after science has connected the spheres and made a bridge of understanding.
“I am thankful for the mind,” I said to the robin, “for it gives us this moment, and all other moments. We may arrive at each day adding and subtracting, carrying joy in one hand and some grief in the other for things that have passed us by, but the world is a magical place, and life is precious.”
“I have my colors and my songs, and I hope I have given pleasure with both, perhaps to touch the speech of angels,” the robin said. With that, he sang a cheery Thanksgiving song, and bid me adieu.
Ramnath Subramanian, a retired public-school teacher, writes for the El Paso Times on educational topics. E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org