As a child, a robin sighted in the March or April presented a reason to celebrate. Fair-weather birds returning from warmer climates delivered evidence of approaching spring. So imagine my delight this morning, when I watched as two robins landed on the grass outside the window in front of me, then three, then a flock. Their stomachs bulged, puffed out like swallowed baseballs, protruding orange bellies brushed the ground as they pecked at the frozen earth. It was clear that these guys have experienced no ill effects through our frozen winter or the six-week snow-cover that melted last week during a short-lived thaw.
Somewhere in my adulthood, I became educated to the fact that robins don’t actually leave us during the cold months, however, the plump beauties feeding from my lawn on the first day of February provided me with an unexpected gift--a moment of optimism in which I was anxious to engage. So leaving my Morning Pages notebook open; I ran to the guestroom, changed the lens on the Nikon and began shooting pictures through the window.
The birds noshed on the yellow stubs of hay, oblivious to the drone of commuter traffic pouring down our street until a school bus spewing blue smoke revved its diesel engine and they took flight. I heard a thwack as one of them hit the front door. “Ugh” I thought. “I’m not opening it to check.”
Once the bus departed though, the flock returned and after taking several photos, I set the camera aside and began writing again--until a contractor’s pick-up clanked as it bottomed out in the divot in front of our house. For a second time, the birds took to the air and again I heard a thump, this one into a bedroom window.
Wincing and throwing down my pen, I walked to the rear of the house and found more birds rooting around the backyard. As I sat in front of the computer, another, louder crash reverberated. “Holy God” I yelled. Jumping up, I paced from room to room; afraid to look out at what might, or might not be flapping on the lawn, while checking to see if a window had cracked. All I could think about was the three-sided glass den jutting from the back of my childhood home. Birds always collided with the sliding doors; we would watch them afterwards, shivering or lying stunned on the grass until they recovered from the shock. Most times, they did.
In all, six birds flew into our house this morning as I cringed, before the flock departed for good. It’s only dawning on me as I type this that I could have opened the door and banged a pot and those suicidal dive bombers would have moved right along.
Sometimes obvious answers are the hardest to see. This is an anniversary week for me. A year ago Friday, I started Middle Passages as a result of a life-change the day before that left me flailing like a broken-winged bird. Somehow I healed myself, but like my visitors this morning,I’ve been flying blind all year and have encountered my share of clear glass windows. Here's what I've learned. After the crash, it's OK to lie on the ground for a bit. But then all you can do is shake yourself and lift off once again, knowing that the only sure thing is that life will erect other invisible surprises.
Today's harmless revelation--well, to me anyway?
Robins must be myopic.