In Birdland, we are in the grip of ice. The white snow and the blue sky give a silvery look to the morning. A pair of cardinals takes turns hopping from branch to branch outside my window.
I saw the male first, of course, when he turned his bright breast toward me suddenly. From behind, he is much less spectacular. I didn't see the female until she took her turn to hop to the next branch.
Back and forth they go, like a conversation. I'm not sure what they're doing, maybe just trying to find a perch that has soaked up a little of the sun's warmth — but fat chance with that: Another arctic mass has squeezed every bit of warmth from this frozen world.
A jay flies past and joins the cardinals in the maple tree. Bits of primary color caught in the brown and white. Michael brought home a big bag of birdseed last night and filled the feeders. My husband likes to tend the wild birds while I tend the tame ones.
The chickens have been holed up in the coop again, and if the weather follows the report, it will likely be a week before I can let them out.
Despite the best wind-blocking features of the coop wrap and the bags of leaves piled on the windward wall and the lights I put out there for warmth, they sit huddled, not even coming down to the floor where I fill up their feeder.
I'll go out and check again in a few hours, maybe bring them some treats to coax them down to stretch their legs. Oh, it is a bitter cold day.
Weather like this makes me feel like I'm waiting for something, and I don't know what it is or whether I really want it to arrive. Mostly I just want to get under the covers and knit if I can keep my hands warm.
We have a perfectly good furnace and a fire in the wood stove, and yet I can't get cozy. I wear my woolen fingerless gloves and a poncho as I type, and that helps some.
I look out the window and try to pull some enthusiasm from the sterling view, but I had to pep-talk myself for 10 minutes just to pull on my boots and take scoops of chicken feed to the coop.
"What will you do," I ask myself, "if you ever get those dairy goats you want? You have to milk them twice a day come blizzard or heat wave or winter blahs."
(Note to self: Build the dairy shed adjacent to the kitchen door, maybe with a sheltered walkway.)
Clouds have come to fill the sky now, only little bits of blue threading above the puffy white.
From the west comes another front sweeping the cloud cover across the sky. Will it bring a colder or warmer mass? I check the weather and it says the temperature will rise 10 degrees in an hour. Why, it will be 21 degrees by 2 p.m.!
I'll let the chickens out late in the afternoon; a few hours outside in below freezing weather won't be too bad for them.
And suddenly, I know what I'm waiting for. A few weeks ago, the sun reached the end of its long journey to the south, and now our hemisphere turns its face back toward the warmth, bit by bit. Each day, the sun stays a moment longer, while we soak up a tiny bit more warmth.
I brew myself some tea and wrap my cold fingers around the cup. I'm waiting for the spring to come back, as it always does. But I don't have to sit, whining about the weather as I wait.
I can bring in more firewood and tend the wood stove. I can visit my aunts and see if their drive needs to be shoveled. I can look over the gardening catalogs that came in yesterday's mail.
I think I'll call Paula and see if anyone will be knitting at the Steeple this afternoon. I can look forward to spring and still enjoy the day.
Wait in beauty; anticipate peace; blessed be.
Mary Lucille Hays waits in Birdland near White Heath for spring. While she is waiting, she will knit some socks, bake some pies, crack some walnuts and tend her chickens. You can read more about Birdland and see photos at letterfrombirdland.blogspot.com. Mary can be reached at email@example.com.