By Gaille Renee Pike
I do pay attention to weather forecasts. But I confess that when Winter Storm Alerts begin to pop on my phone or laptop, my first thought is “Do we have enough coffee?” And when that occurred this week and the answer was no, I headed into town to get supplies. It was overcast, windy and nearly 70 degrees. It looked like the weather forecast might be on target: that we’d get rain at sundown, the temperatures would plummet, and the rain would change to sleet then snow.
We made a big pot of chili and waited. I turned on the porch light so I’d be sure to see the rain or cats who might want in from the cold. We waited so more. No rain. No cats. The only thing that got cold was the chili which lost its appeal. So much for this BIG WINTER STORM, right? I made a sandwich and called it night.
The next morning when I first looked outside, it took me a minute to figure out what I was seeing.
Blowing snow. And it was still blowing. Snowing and blowing so hard I could not see the pond.
I refilled my mug and considered stepping onto the front porch to check out the storm. But when I put my hand on the doorknob and it was so cold it made me shiver, so I decided to just look out the door window instead.
And I thought I was looking at a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” No lie. There were BIRDS everywhere. More birds than I have ever seen on this porch. But they weren’t just covering the porch, the porch steps, and it’s railing. On the porch wall that supports the patio roof, they were perched on every available item: deer antlers, cow skulls, tools, signs, and chimes. Some were sleeping. Some were chirping. And others were flying to and from our birdfeeder or flitted to hop in the snow drifts on the ground. I was mesmerized seeing them so close up, especially with all their feathers puffed out against the cold.
I began to pick out the birds I knew: the sparrows, the black-capped chickadees, the finches, the juncos, the nuthatches, and the woodpeckers. I gasped when I saw a red-winged blackbird. I don’t see these birds very often and the wing marking is so vibrant it almost appears unnatural. There was only one and he was surrounded by a group of birds I did not recognize, slightly smaller birds with black and white speckled breasts. Turns out according to the Internet, these are female red-wing blackbirds who travel in packs with one male. Make what you will of that fact. I’ll just say they were fascinating to watch.
I was glad I plenty of coffee, chili to heat up, and nowhere I needed to go.
And those weathermen weren’t all that far off.
Until next week—keep your eyes on the stars and your back to the wind.