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Music for the forest

Critters listen and sing

Most mornings for the last month or so, I have been running an old cross country trail near our house. I’m drawn to it because it is brimming with spring colors, absent of humans and reminds me of being younger when I’d wear shorts and a singlet through the woods. Plus, I love running a few miles on dirt. When I head into the heavily wooded section, I hit play on my iPhone speaker. Not too loud, just enough to be heard a few feet away. My footsteps and breathing will scare-off most critters like deer, but the music will gently warn the stubborn creatures to get moving. Especially the snakes.

I play Amy Winehouse’s perfect album, Back to Black. The crickets and crows join as her background singers. A squirrel adds a percussion-element with whistling and clicking to the beat. All of the animals’ voices blend into her orchestral mix.

Today, Amy wailed about: “Me & Mr Jones,” when I spotted a giant black snake about four feet ahead, he coiled-up and slithered away toward the bordering grass. I didn’t scream for help. The music track switched to a surprisingly upbeat Amy song, “Tears Dry on Their Own.” (where dark words are mixed with lighter notes; she’s upset, but she is cool.) The song narrated Mr. Snake’s disapproval of my interruption. I messed-up his sunbathing. He just wanted a little warmth; he exited stage left, “He walks away. The sun goes down. He takes the day, but I'm grown. And in your way. In this blue shade. My tears dry on their own,” Amy sang.

The music trick worked!

Amy Winehouse is the perfect music to play day-after-day. I imagine the animals have memorized a little bit more of her album as I pass through their woods. And, I never want to forget how talent was not enough to keep her alive. She was fueled by addiction and may have suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness that led to her death. I sigh, and think selfishly there will be no more Amy songs. She is not somewhere in the countryside working on another album. She died 9 years ago this summer. I remember that Saturday, NYC bars played her music all night long as everyone quietly drank in disbelief that she was gone.

I finished-up my loop and entered back in the neighborhood. Turned down the tunes, there is enough concrete to keep the wild away and there are humans in earshot. Most people don’t completely understand talented musicians like Amy Winehouse who evaporate, and dreamers like me who listen to the singing critters in the woods.

Looking for More Stories?

Visit my website to learn about Liddy, a girl who loved to run in the woods, chase voices and hide her bipolar secret from people who didn’t understand.

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