I often see murmurations of starlings, swimming in synchronous sea clouds.
The fluttering of their collective wings exceeds their calls’ volume, so one tends to hear them before seeing them, in an insistent whisper from the air.
Like an embrace, which would be incomplete without the melody of a beating heart, a murmuration calls on more than one sense.
A fan of terms of venery, I possess what I call an “accord” of Hondas, a “distress” of work due dates, a “howl” of beagles.
I could easily miss a single monochromatic starling. My little golden friend was hard to miss thanks to his bright yellow feathers and exuberant high perch on nearly-barren branches.
I feel very much alone in the world (distinctly not on top of the world, like my bird buddy), especially in March. When I wander outside I listen first, and linger where animals other than humans gather. A slight rustle in marsh grasses led me to my first muskrat siting, two rotund, hilariously wobbly fellows with puddle-slicked fur. One red-winged blackbird’s frenzied call inevitably will be echoed back, and I will suddenly be able to spot their bright red epaulettes arrayed all around me as they strain forward to reply.
Memories are like that, too. It’s not the lone wolf; it’s the pack. The deluge. And like hundreds of undulating starlings, the edges blur, the shapes shift, and sometimes all I can do is watch them unreel, regroup, hold me for a time, and then move away into a covey of clouds.