We bought this house 14 years ago for its peace. We’re right on the edge of a ravine that runs down to Carkeek Park and Puget Sound. When we first moved in, all you could hear was birds and the wind in the trees. Lately, though, with the city’s change in zoning to permit more density, there are times when the only sound is construction: bulldozers flattening single family homes, chainsaws as they take out trees, concrete mixers as they pour foundations for three megahouses where once there was a single-story rambler. Hammering, sawing, the whine and thump of compressors and nail guns. But then there are those blissful days when all the construction falls silent and, once again, all you can hear is birds. Well, that and distant traffic (it is a city). But mainly birds.

This morning, after a later-than-usual breakfast over the usual miserable political crap in the news, I was recycling the newspaper on our back deck—and was struck by the loveliness of the day. The world was wet and grey, and most of the flowers on the deck are now just half-naked sticks in baskets, but it smelled fresh and full of life. And there were birds flitting everywhere: robins, tits, Stellar’s Jay, crows, a flicker, juncos, a hummingbird, and a couple of warblers. Right outside my back door. I forgot all the political crap and just breathed, and listened, and smiled. So just in case you, too, had a miserable start to the day, here’s what real life sounded like today at 9:30 a.m. in one corner of Seattle.