The robins were a little surprised this morning — as were we all — to wake to a steady snowfall. We watched them grubbing in the roadside gravel as I drove Carole to work to meet her colleague for a trip to the airport and thence to Washington DC, where they are preparing an exhibition of Inuit art for the Canadian Embassy in the fall. One of the robins nearly flew into the windshield, but got caught in the slipstream and whooshed to safety, to everyone’s relief. And though I didn’t see or hear it — I was sleeping — Carole said that at dawn, while we were still in bed, a dark shape of a bird flew by our bedroom window screeching. Probably a kingfisher, though possibly a pileated woodpecker, she only caught a glimpse. When we walk the dogs along the Morgan Road, back in the woods along the river, we see the huge holes the pileateds hammer into old trees, piles of rough wood chips on the ground. Then there are the crows, which we both love, strutting around in the road and pecking at squashed chipmunks, etc. — so intent you have to hit the horn to get them to rise from their breakfasts. Have you ever noticed that crows have shoulders? Watch one walk, shoulders flexing beneath glossy blue-black feathers.
There are at least four wild turkeys hanging out on our property this winter — when I went out with one of the terriers this morning they clattered up through the spruce trees by the creek. We see their huge tracks in the snow and they dig around under the bird feeders to pick up what has gone deeper than the other ground-feeders can get to. I also saw a grouse under the feeders the other evening — surprising because they are generally so shy that you only see them as a blur when you accidentally flush one while walking in the woods. We also have our usual nuthatches and woodpeckers and chickadees. I always appreciate the birds more in winter when they are the most lively thing in the landscape.
On the dog walk this morning I think I heard a cardinal, but I didn’t see it. A couple of robins on the lawn. Mallards on the river. A woodpecker beating on a transformer cover up the road and making a hell of a racket. (A couple of years ago a hairy woodpecker discovered that the tin roof of our tool shed makes a great drum, but he hasn’t been back recently.)
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.