A Valentine For The Birds

February 14, 2011

Today is the day for sweethearts, for lovers and for birds. It’s Valentine’s Day and it also, in ancient lore, is the day that birds choose their mates for the year. But no one is doing any choosing in my garden today.

The air is quiet and has been all day. A squirrel or two has visited, but no avian friends. There is no chatter, no rush of wings. The snow is beginning to shrink, melting in strange patches, making me wonder what is generating heat and why, but it is still too cold for birds to truly make an appearance.

I walk the yard, looking at brown grass now instead of snow drifts. Ah! I find the lid to the last black rain barrel. It blew against the fence and was covered in snow for the last two weeks. I do not have snow boots on today, so I leave it against the fence for now, still surrounded by drifts.

I remember a February 14th years ago, when Tony humored me by agreeing to a picnic at Plum Creek Nature Center to celebrate the birds, complete with grilled hot dogs (almost immediately frozen) and toasted marshmallows (also quickly frozen. A toasted, frozen marshmallow is quite the unique experience – try it sometime). The kids shivered by the wooden table, drinking Capri Sun juice pouches with mittened hands, leaving broken potato chips for the squirrels. We walked the paths in hopes of seeing some birds, any birds, but it was just too cold. We didn’t see a single feathered animal – they were all huddled in nests, preserving their warmth and energy. (That whole story about February 14th being Birdy Hook Up Day really must be baloney). Tony finally smiled at me and said, “I think we’re done, don’t you?”

Tony hates being cold, he hates snow, he loathes winter. When I think back to that picnic, dragging my family out in the cold cold cold to attempt to watch birds that had more sense to stay snuggled than I did, it makes me understand how much of a Valentine Tony truly is – each and every day.

I had made hot chocolate and stored it in a thermos to warm us up after our walk. By that time, it was cold too.

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