Saturday, February 27, 2010

An overnight snowstorm thwarted travel plans.

By 11 a.m. the sky showed signs of clearing.

An hour later the clouds boiled up over the hill

and down came the snow!

The birds, however, are not fooled. Today I saw a flock of fat, orange-breasted robins, their feathers fluffed against the cold. The winter birds - the juncos and nuthatches and chickadees - chirped from the feeders but the robins picked frantically at a bit of exposed ground, looking for something more substantial than seeds. Not finding anything, they lifted and flew awkwardly into the wind.

I thought of them often during the day, wondering what drove them to come back before the snows of March had melted, before the ground released sleepy worms, before bugs swarmed and grubs hatched. What drives any of us to go forward before conditions are favorable? Partly it’s genetic inheritance, and in the case of birds, factors such as food supply and a safe place to nest. Come to think of it, that applies to humans, too. We can’t always explain our own journeyings. We respond to some inner urging that makes us flee safety and head into the perilous unknown.

We all come to times in our lives when we have to make some small obeisance to bravery. We face a loss or a challenge and off we go into the unknown with our thimbleful of faith, trusting that whatever we believe in will sustain us along the way.

I cannot know what those robins were thinking as they hurried north into unexpected snow and ice, or what survival plans they made as they shivered together at the edge of the meadow. I hope they find sustenance in some sheltered part of the woods, that food and a place to sleep are close at hand. For my part, I will look for them again tomorrow. I have cleared a space beneath a large pine, a place where the snow was already beginning to melt. Perhaps they will find food there among the rotted leaves and the twining roots. Perhaps, unwittingly, I am a contributor to their thimbleful of faith.


Sky said...

oh, i am sure you are, yes, indeed!
lucky robins - i hope they find some delicious treats in your open space.

perhaps they thought spring was already in full swing there like it is here. we are in color with blooming heather, daffodils, hyacinths, and early rhododendrons. spring arrived here one month early. we are hoping there will be no surprise freezes or snowfalls in our near future.

Molly said...

Your friends have been here twice in the past month. Huge flocks of them,noisy and raucous and gorging their fat red bellies on two holly trees we have, one out front and one in the back, until there wasn't a berry left! Then they took to the air and disappeared as suddenly and noisily as they had arrived....Obviously to fly home to you! Hope things warm up for them, and you, soon!

Ruth D~ said...

Time is different for animals... seasons aren't prescribed by days on a calendar.. the internal clock ticks for good or bad. Hopefully good for these robins.

Paul said...

So is faith a belief, one that may not be that strong (a thimbleful), that life will provide you with the things you need to avoid... death (until old age of course)? Severe and permanent disability, with the end of life as you knew it? Similar disasters occurring to your loved ones?

If that's it, I lost all my faith a long time ago but go on anyway...

Pauline said...

Sky - I heard the first red-winged blackbirds today, a sure harbinger of spring.

Molly - thanks for sending them along!

Ruth - they were there scritching in the wet earth this morning, despite the snow that fell on their backs.

Paul: No, faith in my dictionary (the one according to Pauline) is trusting that whatever we believe in will sustain us along the way. In other words, I believe in the return of spring, the turn of the great seasonal wheel, the robins showing up at winter's end. I don't believe anything we believe (or believe in) will save us from death or destruction or pain or disaster. My beliefs sometimes give me a modicum of peace during those times, though.

Anonymous said...

I used to read these reports from the States about the inevitability of seasonal snow and yearn for a little of the same, such as we used to have way back when. Be careful what you ask for! We're free of it down here just now and I'll be happy for it to stay that way.

Barbara said...

I really do feel for all those animals, many of whom are probably caught by surprise as it starts to snow. I wonder how many fail to make it through the winter.

Flea said...

Wow, great pics!! I wish I can one day experience a snow storm while tucked warm inside.
Happy Spring time today.

Meggie said...

I often think of the Buddhist way of thinking about life.
I hope your little birds find sustenance to live.
I enjoy reading your replies to Paul. You seem to say the things I would wish to say.