Sunday, March 02, 2008


Yesterday it snowed, and rained, and rained with snow, and snowed with rain, and then it rained and snowed some more. And during the worst of it, the dog kept running downstairs (I was working upstairs in my office) and barking out the windows. I didn’t think too much of this because — well, to be honest, the dog will bark at anything from blowing leaves to falling icicles, not to mention squirrels, seagulls, crows, passing dogs (known and unknown), and the strange little man who walks down the street talking loudly to himself. (He has been known to bark back, and they both seem pleased by the interaction.) But after a while, she started to sound kind of frantic, and I went downstairs to see what was going on.

She was in the living room, bouncing from one front window to the next, so I pulled back a shutter to see what was going on, and found robins. Not just a robin, or even a pair of robins, but dozens of them, a mob of robins busily stripping the pea-sized crabapples from the two dwarf trees that dominate the narrow flowerbed that is my “yard.”

Lisa planted those trees in her last really good spell, and she’d picked them in part because the nursery people had said they would attract birds, but I’d never seen anything like this. The robins were perched on every possible branch of the crabapples, and there were more waiting their turn on the wires that run along the street. A few were scavenging along the ground, picking up anything the bigger birds dropped. They completely ignored me, standing in the window with the shutter wide open. All right, one of them cocked his head to make sure I was really confined, fixing me with one beady black eye, but then he went on eating. As I stood there, they stripped the tree bare — there truly wasn’t a single apple left behind — and then swirled away into the snowy rain, bright red breasts against the gray sky.

I’m still smiling, thinking about it.