February Robin

February Robin

Robin’s come early this year. February has barely said hello, and he’s already cocking his head in my crabapple tree, spearing a bit of withered fruit in his needle-beak and fluffing his sloped orange breast.

My first reaction is to attach hope to fat Mr. Robin. As surely as a scientist tags the legs of its wild specimens to track them, I want formal, banded proof that Spring will arrive soon. And, Robin reminds me: Before my mind’s eye, the white-sugar snow shell that caps our front yard cracks, melts, and is replaced with the lush spread of April’s picnic blanket— green, green, green. And, there’s Robin, in the middle of the feast, pulling up long, luscious worms among the violets.

He heralds Spring and what, indeed, could be more hopeful than that?

But, for now, Winter grips us, in a no-holds-barred battle, not content with simple cold or snow, but bent on total unpredictability. She would hold us in her torrentially wet fist one moment, only to drop us the next day on a dazzling bed of thick snow with skies so brilliantly blue they would make June weep.

But, I begin to see that Robin is not Hope. I am mistaken. Robin is something better.

Robin is about the practical, day-in, day-out. Robin is here, putting in his time, while Winter is laying the groundwork for Spring.

You see Winter really doesn’t want to stay forever, though we might think she does. She knows her days are numbered, and she has worked long and hard. It’s not an easy job, being the most maligned season. Her tantrums of snow and wind and sleet exhaust her as much as they do us. After seven solid weeks, she’s worn down.

Both she and Robin hear the sap running and witness the earth’s slow rotation back toward the sun. Even as the cold remains, daylight extends; Winter and Robin see the writing on the wall.

But, in the meantime, there’s work to do, Robin reminds us. Ahead of us stretches the path of days that lead us to Spring. But, first we must boot up, wind scarves about necks, and turn our cheeks bright to the Winter wind.

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