Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: The Spirit of the Marsh Returns

Some of you may have already heard the calls, the ancient sounds that now fill the air of the Meadowlands. Those who are connected to the natural world know it is time without ever looking at the calendar. It is the season  for the “Spirit of the Marsh,” as Native Americans have called it. Time for the Red-winged Blackbirds to return to the meadows and marshes of New Jersey.

Ever since I first wandered the trails and paths of the Meadowlands the echoes of the Red-Winged blackbirds became part of me and connected me forever to my meadows home. As a child growing up in Meadowlands my friends and I waited anxiously to see the first Red-winged Blackbird clinging to the reed grass. Even with snow on the ground and winter winds still blowing hard we knew that spring could not be far off.

Like they have since time immemorial and again this year, the Red-winged black bird has returned. Steadfast and unending, faithful and unceasing the birds now fill the meadows battling for nesting places like they have for eons. Again this year the birds will bring on the next generation, needing nothing more than a place to call home, none better than the New Jersey Meadowlands.


And again this season, like it has for many years, my spirit was revitalized and my heart once again overjoyed when I saw my first Red-wings of the year. But Nature is like that, that is what it does. No matter what is happening on our own life’s journey, nature is the continual, always there when we need it most. Always going forward but also waiting quietly for us to discover it again and again.

The Red-winged Blackbird has always been there for me, through sadness and joy, birth and death, times of weakness and strength. The Red-wings have filled the air with a sound of life’s true significance, a reminder call to alert us that nature is still there despite everything else, waiting patiently but with a strength that has always endured.

Our wild places like the Meadowlands will always need our protection and vigilance to keep it safe from harm, but what we need to always remember is that we need nature far more than it will ever need us. The call of the Red-wing Blackbird should remind us that we a part of nature , that is who we are, as intertwined to the wildflowers as much as the butterflies, and attached and connected  to the trees as much as the Red-taileded hawk.

Listen to the Red-wings. They will remind you of that in case you have forgotten.

2 thoughts on “Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: The Spirit of the Marsh Returns

    1. Don

      thank you Lisa , when I hear thier calls i think of friends and family , some no longer with us ..I think of growing up and think of of how far we have come and where we need to be ..


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