A reader asked what you think about all day when hiking.
everything. and nothing. I will expand on this at some point. To hike awakens mindfulness, an awareness of basic body reaction to the environment explored by Buddhists.
for me, I will reveal a sort of automatic process that took place this time around.
there is a bird known as the Eastern Wood Peewee. click on the link and you can hear the sound it makes, captured on YouTube. this time of year, most birds are silent during the day because mating season is over. you will hear the dawn chorus at 0615, for about thirty minutes, then it dies down.
Spring is the best time to listen to the symphony of birds. they sing songs of love. The dawn chorus. something I have always loved.
as many of you know, I love music and have a lot of tunes on MP3. I don’t listen while hiking though, because it depletes the battery.
One song on my playlist is ” An Dro Retournee” which is a folk song from Brittany, the French province. I like the tune. Part of the YouTube commentary on it reads as follows:
The An Dro is an ancient fertility dance from, some say the Bronze Age’ and it was danced around the fields at festivals, sometimes all night, hence it had to keep the pace even, so the people will be led into a trance, rather than to exhaustion. In this version the footwork is more in and out rather than side and on the spot, and the dance is driven by the large spiral swing of the arms. I tell you from experience, it is very energising!
And there is on particular recording of it used by many International Folk Dance groups in USA, that includes some synthesized sounds. I think the synthed parts were intended to evoke the sound of a Brittany bagpipe, but to me it sounds like a bird call or perhaps a whale recording.
and here is the mystery: sometimes as I was hiking along I would find myself singing this song. After ten minutes or so , I would make a conscious effort to think of something else, and ask myself why this was in my head?
the answer is, whenever I passed through a spot where there was a Wood Peewee, I would recognize the sound, subconsciously at times. Next thing I knew I was singing this tune. If I were one of Pavlov’s dogs, I would have been salivating.
it’s one of those aspects of free association. there are many examples of tunes designed to mimic bird calls – including a famous passage from Beethoven’s Pastorale symphony which uses the woodwind quintet. Wooden bird whistles are a staple of percussion in Brasilian samba music as well.