1500 ladybirds arrived on my doorstep, a gift. There were so many spots and wings and tiny legs. I waited for the chaos of their exit-but they barely stirred-- only a low cooing and the restling of grey silk feathers. I decided they were waiting for directions so I pointed to a tall oak in my front yard and they flew as one into the tallest branches, then became silent once more.

Then a breeze came up and a song settled down from the branches-lilting like a flute but with a lower tone. If I closed my eyes I could almost hear a woman's voice reciting lines from a children's poem I knew when I was little. Almost, but not quite.

When I woke I looked outside and the trees were all winter bare. I called a friend and asked if she had a nice birthday.

Yes, I got a songbird, it's beautiful.