Wednesday, February 27, 2013

American Robin

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul ...
              --Emily Dickinson

Yesterday a blizzard blanketed parts of the southwest and the midwest U.S.
Here in the Shire, an unappealing mix of heavy rain and gusty winds 
made walking outside a very wet and cold experience.
With all that inclement weather going on, 
who would know Spring is a mere 20 days away?

And today brings another gray, overcast, and chilly morning--
the kind of morning that makes me want to pull the blankets over my head.
But my hope for spring endures, prompted by signs of its return.

photo courtesy of

My rosy-pink camellias are just now blooming as they do every February.
This year I have counted 6 blossoms, which is a record.
My camellia plants probably don't care for their shady location,
so they are the most reluctant bloomers compared to other camellias.

But there are daffodils opening everywhere, albeit rain-soaked and sodden ones.
The soft orange and ivory pansies near my front door 
are quite happy in the cold air of late winter. 
They turn their faces to the few glimmers of sun we've seen lately.
And  as early as two weeks ago, I saw a fat American Robin
hopping through the moss looking for tasty treats.
And  nothing says spring is arriving better than a robin singing.
Or perhaps more telling is to find a nest filled with the robin's soft blue eggs.

photo courtesy of

My husband and I once drove in a neighborhood 
that was high on the bluffs of the Arkansas River.
There were hundreds of robins gathered on the front lawns of houses.
It was spectacular. I had never seen so many robins in one place.
Watching the birds take off in unison and then settle again on another lawn was fascinating.
Usually my encounters with robins are limited to one or a few.

photo courtesy of

When we lived in Virginia Beach, we had a row of black cherry trees
behind our house. One tree had a branch that stretched out horizontally.
It had grown with gentle curves that were just right for a robin to build a nest.
It's been so long ago, I don't recall if there were hatchlings or not.
All I recall is the excitement of seeing a robin nesting so close to the house.
I'm surprised the mother robin allowed us to peek at her nest,
considering an encounter I had had with nesting robins several years before.

At that time, I was attending an all-day training session to be a literacy tutor.
At the lunch break, I went outside and walked around,
stopping under a tree to examine its leaves up close.
Big mistake. 
Suddenly I was dive bombed by two robins defending a nest.
They went right for my head, flapping their wings furiously,
advancing, retreating, advancing again.
The birds and I became a messy tangle of beaks and wings and hair.
It must have been quite a sight.

So yes, robins:
harbingers of spring, beautiful song, pretty blue eggs, charming hop.
But don't get too near their nest or you'll meet a fearless warrior,
well described by Emily Dickinson:

He bit an angleworm in halves
and ate the fellow, raw.

It's a good thing I'm adult-sized.

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