Monday, February 19, 2007
The Robin in My Backyard
Like many folks who have grown up in the Northeast, I have come to see robins as a first sign of spring, as they return from wintering over somewhere warmer and farther south.
This year, I have a robin in my yard that's never left! I like to make up stories about things, so the story I've made up about this robin ("my" robin) in my thinking is that it was lured to stick around this winter when the winter began so mild. I swear I remember seeing it catch worms in the yard up to mid-January, before the weather turned suddenly and deeply wintry. At first, I worried about what she was eating (Yes, in my mind, she's a "she;" see how I make up stories?), and then I noticed that the berries on the dogwood tree in the side yard were slowly disappearing. Next, she discovered the holly bush in the front yard, full of berries, and she would even sing her tuneless robin song from the front yard, as if she had discovered a great treasure. Now, I don't know of any remaining berries in my yard (although she might), but I see her almost every morning at my water garden.
So, here's a photo of my water garden in winter; no robin; she's too smart to stick around when we (or the yard cats) are outside. In order to allow exchange of oxygen/carbon dioxide for the fish in the water garden, I put in a floating water heater. It keeps the ice from freezing the entire surface of the water, and, in addition to keeping my fish (and any bullfrogs wintering over down in the leaves) alive, it provides fresh liquid water for the birds, and cats, other wildlife, and for my robin. And even for a stray bluebird (formally known as an Eastern bluebird).
A few weeks ago, I saw a bluebird at the water garden, and wondered what it was doing this far north when it's so cold. I don't see bluebirds in my yard in the summer, so I was especially surprised to see her there. My friend Richard, who has bluebird houses and loves them, too, showed me a picture in a bird book of about 10 bluebirds tightly packed in a bluebird house in the winter. The book also said that bluebirds stop eating insects in winter and switch to berries. So then I added to "my story" about "my robin," and figured that, like bluebirds, she has shifted from her usual diet of earthworms to berries.
Okay, I know this has nothing to do with my illness, or my current physical state. So how do I feel today? Pretty good, tolerating the chemo well, eating well. But I'm not going out much with the cold air and my recent infusion of oxaliplatin, so I look out the windows a lot and dream of spring and things growing and turning green again. Even though this robin has stayed for winter, and so is not the typical harbinger of spring, she makes me smile and makes my heart happy. I admire her fortitude, her ability to survive and even thrive in this alien weather. I guess her life-fullness gives me hope, makes me happy. So, I share with you her story.
Credit to Patty for going out on this cold day to take this picture. Thanks, Patty!
Later note: I woke up thinking this morning that not everyone who might read this knows what these birds look and sound like, so I've created links to some websites with photos and bird songs, and some links to water garden pictures - in full summer mode, of course!