Getting Through February (the Longest Month): Everyday Magic, Day 965

A moment yesterday (big round thing is rain barrel we’re repairing). Note approaching deer.

As life has repeatedly, February is the longest month. Maybe it’s the overwrought repetition of cold, ice, and snow after months of winter. Maybe it’s the shy hints of spring to come — often snow drops before they get snowed under, or days like Thursday, when Harriet and I walked unfettered by heavy coats andg ear in 55 degrees — before the heavy hand of the winter storm warmings land again. Maybe it’s more personal because this is the month when my beloved father-in-law died (10 years ago as of the 10th) as well as my dear friends Weedle and Hadassah died during the shortest month that is anything but short.

Yesterday it snowed, enough so that much of my area of the country was closed to all but those intrepid drivers who ventured out while the accident blotters grew.  Tonight, maybe some freezing rain. Tuesday, more snow. Our local school district has now had so many snow days that even the teachers I know are jonesing to get back into the classroom.

But it’s not just snow and ice flying around in single-digit winds. February is often when I see the most winter birds, having tried of thrashing against winter enough to just watch the bird feeders and Cottonwood Mel fill with juncos, black-capped chickadees, cardinals, bluejays, flickers, red-bellied woodpeckers, cedar waxwings, and usually at some point soon, bluebirds. Squirrels stand on the deck railing, ferreting out the leftover black sunflower seeds. The deer bravely slink across the field to surround the bird feeder too while we hold the anxious-to-protect-us-from-them dog by his collar and tell him to chill out. Yesterday, in the middle of the whirling snow, it looked like a scene from¬†Snow White outside our living room window while beef stew made its way to perfection in the crockpot and I whipped up a batch of applesauce muffins.

As the first February in 23 years that I’m not spending half the month at Goddard at a residency (on unpaid leave this semester), my view is uninterrupted (although Vermont does February seriously). When the sun returns, like right now pouring over my typing fingers as I watch a chickadee hop across the snowy deck, I forget the length and weight of February. Instead, I see how much there is to be with right now. Spring will come, but here is the continual flight of winter wrapping us in its surprises and surrenders.

Red-Winged Blackbirds in a Field of Snow: Everyday Magic, Day 220

The birds woke me up, hundreds of them, so many and so surprising that I thought they must be overflow from a dream or a recording Ken was listening to in the other room. But when I looked outside, I saw the giant swarm of red-winged blackbirds — one of my favorite of all the flying beings — filling every branch in Cottonwood Mel as well as ground they pecked bare below the bird feeder.

Where did they come from? Where are they going? I don’t know, but watching them dive upward, circle down to the feeder, then flutter back to the tree, I aimed my eyes toward their red wings against the iridescent black against the fields of snow.

Turkeys were also there, checking otu the compost pile

In little time, the large feeder was empty, and Ken cajoled me to step outside in my slippers and refill it. Of course just opening the door made them scatter at high speed, and I think that wearing zebra-print pajamas probably didn’t help them feel too welcome to return in a hurry, so I went back in once my mission was accomplished and watched. Our regulars — the pushy but elegant where to buy generic cialis cardinals, intrepid chickadees, flashy red-bellied woodpeckers, and sweet but nervous juncos — returned, used to the human-bird feeder routine. They rushed in full force, getting all they could, and keeping a scared eye to the sky.

First one red-winged blackbird returned, an early scout, then we saw about three. Within a few minutes, there were a dozen, and soon hundreds poured back in, freaking out the littler birds but eventually settling into a pattern. First the red-winged blackbirds rush the feeder in groups in 4-7, and after a bunch of them had their fill, they moved onto the cottonwood. Then the little birds made a run for it, doing their usual mid-air jostling on occasion. Cardinals every so often, as they are prone to do, crashed into our windows, cats on the other side making their strange eeking sounds (as in, “This is the best movie I’ve ever seen”). And the humans watching it all — this glimpse of spirit on the wing — took pictures, pointed, asked questions and followed the line of the flock from feeder to cottonwood to long slope over the snow-fog sky to wherever they go next.

The Return of the Birds: Everyday Magic, Day 137

Lately, I’ve noticed the cats high-speeding it to the window to stare out with great joy and hunger, and just beyond them, the bare branches holding a few returning chickadees and other manner of small fluffy bundles. The bird seed is starting to go down faster each day, and I know that soon, when the temperatures really drop, the deer will return to lick the ground around the feeder, the squirrels will do amazing acrobatic feats to get their share, and the bossy bluejays will scare away the smaller birds. I also know the vibrant red and blue will return — the cardinals and bluebirds, both of which have come to mean more and more to me over time. Each flash of color ignites little pools of joy in me, and for that, I’m grateful.