Whistling: Food for Thought

Yesterday morning, I was not alone at the keyboard.

In my company, on my desk pad, climbing up my clamp-on lamp, and streaming out from under the National Geographic that, for reasons I cannot explain, has been on my desk now for at least six months, were a hundred very small, very black, very fast ants.

Had I left them to their work and purpose (I imagined them and even think I heard them whistling Colonel Bogie March while they worked) they would have mustered a sufficient strength of numbers to carry me back to their hidey-hole out under the foundation plantings in front of house. I was ready to let them. It’s time to move on.

But I grew selfish with my personal space and corpus, and did wax wroth against the insects. Under the aforementioned NG magazine, I placed several drops of Terra Ant Liquid, the book held aloft to create a cozy and protective shadow by other pieces of what my little life-mate chooses to call “clutter”, also on my desk the same half year.

And into that sheltered place did stream hundreds of animated, whistling black specks, meaning me no personal harm, it is true, aside from serving me ultimately for a meal for their ant-babies. I am here to serve.

And they did drink heartily, little slurping sounds emanating from the shadows the day long, until they marched in lock step, happy and full, back from whence they came. And lo, this morning, I am alone at the keyboard, whistling in the dark.

And all this talk of whistling has lead me to remember a haunting, whistled tune from decades ago, for which I cannot find a name. SoundHound failed me. And so, when the dog awakes (she too would have me for dinner) I will record a short clip (click the link above) and see if any of you three readers might help me to name that tune. [UPDATE: see COMMENTS for the answer.]

Meanwhile, be entertained by the “History of Whistling.” I was.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Morning, Fred!
    Try “The High and the Mighty Theme”, from the 1954 movie starring John Wayne. My Dad used to whistle this often.

  2. Thanks, Peg–all I could remember was it being called The Whistler. Close, but no cigar. I remember hearing it as a child, and among other early 50s songs, being captivated. Here’s the scoop:

    The High and the Mighty (film) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Composer Dimitri Tiomkin scored the film and composed the theme song “The High and the Mighty”. The theme song was also called “The Whistling Song” because John Wayne whistled the tune during production.[30] Tiomkin’s music for the film topped hit parade charts and remained there for weeks, increasing the profile of the film itself.[31] A 1955 national survey of disc jockeys labeled the song as the “most whistleable tune”.[31] Hollywood producers learned that a publicized title song could have value in attracting audiences to theaters.[32] The song’s “haunting strains” were played on the radio and on recordings in the years after the film’s release.[30] It was nominated for Academy Award consideration for “Best Song”

  3. Ha! Visions of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Fred. Ay, hadst thou anchored off Lilliput?

    Argh- Mother’s fending off the same beasts up in Maine. We have the colossal variety, here, at the moment, for which we’ll venture to employ the professionals. ‘Tis that time of year!