Looked out on BackPorch at first light this morning—eighteen degrees on the thermometer. As always the cardinals were first at the feeders, their bright red feather-coats fluffed in the cold. Perky head-crests held high, black beady eyes sparkling in the beams of the porch light, they flitted from branch to feeder, chipping to one another in that unmistakable cardinal-call. Other birds, still sleeping, must be tucked in their cozy tree-bark crevices, grass-stuffed homes, or stone-wall hideaways.
At one time there were 80 birdhouses around Hare Hollow—many have since disintegrated or come down with branches, but there are still many available for winter shelter. We’re not the kind to faithfully cleanout last season’s nests, or bring them in when the nesting is over. No, we leave them, having learned by now that the birds and other wee creatures are quite remarkably capable of using them as needed—nesting boxes sometimes, winter shelter at others.
As I lingered by the window, I noted stark trees silhouetted against the brightening sky, quiet and stately this early morn after such a windy day yesterday—and oh praise be, no snow!
Can you imagine those folks in Buffalo looking out their upstairs windows this morning (the downstairs ones are already snow-covered!) down onto seven-plus-feet of snow nearly to the upstairs sills? Have you seen the pictures of doorways opening to a wall of snow, a perfect imprint of the door on its surface? Oh, perish the thought! And yet I wonder if a winter weather-pattern is forming, like previous years, and is it just a matter of time before these monster-storms reach further east. Can you say hibernation? Every winter I’m more convinced that those bears have the right idea!
It’s no laughing matter though—the deaths and near-death incidents we’re hearing in the news. My heart goes out to those people, and I find myself double-checking the pantry, the emergency supplies and the wood-pile on our front porch. What if it were us? Are we prepared? How DO you prepare for seven feet of snow on a only-slighted tapered roof? [shudder]
Sir Fivel just headed down the DownSpout Stairway, warmly dressed in his dapper wool coat and matching cap, a long fringed scarf wrapped about his neck. He saw me standing at the window and in his usual gentlemanly way, bowed slightly, tilting his cap in acknowledgement. I smiled and waved, watching as he made his way carefully through the back yard, past Big Rock Schoolhouse, and beneath it, into the tunnel where his shop is located along with many others. I’ve noted that he carries a knobby walking stick sometimes. Mostly, he uses it to pave the way through leaves and brush, but I have to wonder if our Sir Fivel is feeling his years and knows the wisdom of having help now and then, a little something to lean on.
He looked back, but not at me, causing me to look up, following his gaze. Sure enough, there in MouseHouse doorway stood Fivelina, wrapped in her fleece robe, waving merrily to her beloved. Then she closed the door snuggly against the cold. Only a tiny wisp of white smoke coming from their chimney would attest to that cozy mouse-sized bungalow under the eaves. I smiled to myself thinking of her settling in her rocker with a second cup of her aromatic, brewed roast-chicory, taking a minute to regroup before the children arose.
The kettle moans softly on our back burner, a hungry gray kitty nudges against my calves, and the furnace hums reassuringly below. We are safe, warm and well-provided for. Blessings abound.