The Echoes of Sound

The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming memoir, Evelio’s Garden.

When the first Red-lored Parrots fly over in twos and threes, always easterly, my ears still remember the calls of the Canada geese on their southward run in the autumns of the north. Philadelphia is on the Great Eastern Flyway and, even in the center of the city, the call of the geese overhead reminded us of the wild places and cold sunsets on the Chesapeake Bay.

It was a haunting, hollow sound, a sound of echoes and lost places. My brain is still hard-wired to recognize those sounds and memories, even after so many years in a tropical country, far from the wintering grounds of the geese. And it takes me a day or two to realize that what I’m hearing is a bird the color of new leaves with a blunt head and a red patch above its beak that loves to gather by the hundreds in the trees and shake them to death while noisily deliberating what to do next.

A large flock of parrots cased the jocote tree today and determined, after a few raucous minutes, that the fruit wasn’t ready yet, and so they peeled off, some landing in the tops of the three eucalyptus trees next to the house, bending the slender topmost branches like a big wind, until they continued on their way.

In the North, the flights of the geese always pulled at me in a particular way, made me ache for other destinations, a less complicated life. They called to me of a simpler, richer time, a freedom and a dignity that our modern lives had lost.  The parrots harken to the same impulse in me, except that now I smile at the birds, at their noisy antics, and at my old associations, and I am reminded that what I have chosen for myself is a life infinitely richer than what I had before.

© SandraShaw Homer, 2016

Photo by Alison Shaw

Photo by Alison Shaw

About SSH

Philadelphia native and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell, Shaw Homer has lived in Costa Rica for over 30 years, where she has taught languages and worked for environmental NGOs. In addition to writing for the local press, her fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in both print and on-line literary and travel journals, as well as on her blog, Her travel memoir, Letters from the Pacific, received excellent Kirkus and Publishers Weekly reviews. Her most recent book is Evelio’s Garden: Memoir of a Naturalist in Costa Rica. She and all her books can be found at

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