The ‘Apapane Chorus

apapane-on-puu-oo-trail-by-harmony-on-planet-earthWell, last week I told you a story about an ‘ea, a hawksbill sea turtle. So, you know what this week’s story is going to be about, right?

Because you know I tell stories about birds a lot, and there’s one particular bird I keep coming back to. Anybody have a guess as to what this story is about?

That’s right. It’s about an ‘apapane.

Actually, it’s about several of them, and for once, they’re not nestlings. Well, OK, they were nestlings when then met. They happened to grow up in neighboring nests in an ohi’a grove, so they all knew each other. They’d fly about together, and they played games together.

You know, the usual games of small birds, like… football. Or soccer (that’s football in Europe). Or… board games.

Growing up together, whatever games they played, they knew a lot of the same things. Their parents taught them how to live in an ohi’a forest: what an ohi’a lehua blossom is like when it’s the ripest, and which bugs are tasty, and which ones aren’t.

There was one question, though, that none of them could seem to get a straight answer to, no matter how many times they asked their parents.

(Does that ever happen to you? It happened to me. I’d ask my parents something and they just wouldn’t have an answer. It still happens.)

(It probably happens to my kids, too, now that I think about it.)

The question was, “How do you know when it’s time to sing?”

So the parents, no matter which ones they were, would start out by saying, “Well, you know it’s time to sing when…” and their voices would trail away.

“Oh, I know,” they might continue, “it’s when… No. No, that’s not it.”

Long silences would follow, and then this:

“You’ll just know.”

The young ‘apapane didn’t think this was a good answer.

No, not a single one of them.

Fairly soon, the time came for the birds to move on. Ohi’a bloom for a time, and then other trees go into blossom, and the ‘apapane followed their food. Soon the young birds were scattered into several groves, still within earshot, but they couldn’t always see one another.

That’s when they realized how they’d know when it was time to sing. Because it would just happen.

One bird, for no reason he or she could ever describe, would suddenly burst into the distinctive ‘apapane call. The others would join in so quickly that sometimes they couldn’t be sure who had started the song. It just happened.

Over and over again, it just happened.

Someday, it’s going to be time for you to sing. And you’ll know. Somehow, you’ll know, and I know that’s not a great answer to the question, “How will I know?” but you will.

You’ll know.

Sometimes it will be you who’ll be the first to sing – or it will be you – or it will be you. It might be all three of you. Or it might be somebody else’s turn.

But you’ll know. You’ll know when it’s time to sing, when it’s time to lead the song.


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