Once I came to within maybe three yards of the margin trees, though, the noise changed to a wave of sound: hundreds of wings fighting their way out of the winter branches in unison. Migrating thrush-family birds overwinter in our little copse; of course I couldn't see them so have no idea if they were thrushes, or blackbirds (yes some of them migrate too), redwings or fieldfares. I can only imagine that the crackling was the tiny cheeps they make to each other as they settle to roost.
Early in her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Annie Dillard mentions a tree, an Osage orange, which, ostensibly empty, suddenly flames with an eruption of blackbirds, previously unseen; then another, then another – hundreds of blackbirds from what looked like an empty tree. This was a moment of glory for her, to which she returns in the course of the book. Reading her passage, many years ago now, that tree became a moment of glory for me, too; one which I have not forgotten, to which I return, a metaphor against which I measure, or by which I name, other moments – including, of course, my own personal remembered gloriousnesses. The tree, in the book and in my imagination, is both itself and a metaphor for something else. It has become mythic in size, and that way contains magic.