As if to remind me to stay inside at my desk writing, the temperature yesterday morning here in South Colton was -22° though it’s a little “warmer” this morning at 5°,we are in for even colder weather over the next few days. The forecast has highs in the single digits below zero (F). Lots of birds taking advantage of the seed & suet I put out. We’ve had the usual lot of chickadees & a huge flock of goldfinches, smaller numbers of juncos, woodpeckers large & small, along with nuthatches & the bluejays, tricked out like 1960s Cadillacs. Yesterday there was a very large hawk –maybe an eagle, we only saw him from the back — perched in one of the snags down by the river. Both yesterday & today Carole has put toe warmers in her boots, donned many layers of clothing, & gone off to the barn in Crary Mills where she boards her horse to muck stalls. What a woman! And she splits the firewood, too! All I have to do is keep feeding the woodstove. Which reminds me…
Just went out into a bright, sunny afternoon to shovel the walks and deck clear of last night’s foot of snow. It’s cold — hovering around zero — so the snow is light and easy to move. I cut a racetrack around the dogrun in back so that the terriers wouldn’t be over their heads. Have to keep ahead of the shoveling, though, since the forecast is for another foot starting tonight. As I was taking a break & leaning on my snow shovel, I stood still near the bird feeder and let the chickadees fly up and down around me, cold enough that I could hear the beating of their wings. All the while I was there, a harry woodpecker braced himself against the pole with his tail and pecked at the suet I’d put out yesterday. The sun was remarkably warm for December, though the air was cold, & we were all enjoying it, I think, the animal pleasure of warm sun in mid-winter.
I put the bird feeders up this weekend and dumped the dirt out of the big ceramic pots I grow herbs & peppers in during the summer. Took the screes down and put them in the shed & stacked the wooden deck chairs under a tarp. I’ve still got a few more things to button down in the yard, but the fall chores are nearly done. The first day there were no takers (that I saw) on the feeders, but yesterday as I was out working I saw a pair of nuthatches making regular trips between the feeder & the pine. Elegant little birds. Then, later, a hairy woodpecker put in an appearance. I feel very satisfied in the fall most years & this year especially so. My life is easy now, though it wasn’t always so. The thing about an easy life is that it requires responsibility. No one deserves an easy life — or everyone does — but if you’re luck you should do something with your luck. I mean me, of course. What is it Camus says in The Rebel? That what you wish for yourself you must wish for everyone.
One of these little guys has been hanging out in the dogwood tree outside my study window, plucking the last of the berries, then flitting up to the high branches of the pine to catch the sun. He spent a good ten minutes going back and forth this morning before heading deeper into the woods.
Three crows stroll along
the dirt road: adolescents
with somewhere to go.
no doubt, but they let you know
theyâ€™re in no hurry.
Sunlight sheens their backs
& they are comfortable
muttering their dark joy.
The first chickadees have returned from their alpine summer range in the High Peaks to our foorhills. For the last several days I’ve been watching one of them, who sits on the powerline that runs from the road to the house, flitting methodically between this steady perch & the small blue berries of the dogwood that grows outside my study window. He’s such a tough little bugger.