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It’s not an up-tempo day. I awoke this morning only to discover that my pipes are frozen solid – no cold water to temper the hot water for my invigorating daily shower; no flush water to accommodate the liquid-blue ministrations of Princess Tidy Bowl.
My landlord Bob, who thumps about directly above me at odd hours, enjoying the full benefits of middle-age insomnia, just left for the hardware store to buy a blow torch. Hopefully Bob’s act of non-plumbers-union, fee-free human kindness will do the trick.
Meanwhile I’ve wrapped my flower-pastel heating pad around the recalcitrant sink pipe, praying it will thaw. (When it comes to pipes – of the metallic or plastic varieties – either straight, curved, or elbow bent – I’m at a loss. Suffice it to say Drano – when not used for concocting crystal meth – is a godsend during summer.)
It’s an act of faith on my part that spring is seductively lurking around the bend. I’m tempted to believe it because for the past several deep-freezer days I’ve had an unexpected visitor – one of the plumpest robins I, a now and then bird voyeur, have ever seen.
I was standing on my porch when he flew into my yard and sat on a twig that held one or two oval red berries, leftovers. As I watched he plucked a juicy one, flew to the pavement and leisurely pecked it into nothingness, unconcerned that I was standing (perfectly still of course) just two or three feet nearby. He cocked his head in my direction, winked at me, and flew off.
I headed out for morning coffee (with free, serepticious read of the papers at Barnes & Noble), returning hours later. Mr. Robin was back, nestled against the cement wall of the building abuting my house. He tackled berry number two. Then number three. Feeling the onset of carefree pet ownership I smiled.
Although robins are cold-blooded, and this robin’s feather were fluffed out to the max, affording him a measure of protection from the day’s icy wind and snow, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the little guy. Why, in the name of common sense, didn’t you fly off to Fort Lauderdale. (And, for that matter, why in hell didn’t I?)
Six or seven days running now my friend has been coming back, crouching down in odd, tuck-away corners of my yard – a yard that is for the most part barren: a few twigs, lots of brown patches, an occasional unneighborly discarded plastic wrapper. It’s certainly not the setting to match the grand and regal markings displayed by this petit monarch. Our Michigan State Bird!
It may seem silly but I feel honored that this robin is acclimated enough to pay “me” these visits. I wondered if there is just the tiniest awareness on his part of my being? (Hey! This guy looks like a safe bloke. Granted, it’s not the best of nesting locals, but, I’ll take my chances – butch mortal ‘tho he be.)
As I watch my friend sit trustingly at hand I recall a poem of Emily Dickinson, who wrote so knowingly of all sentient beings. It goes, “If I shouldn’t be alive when the robin comes/ Give the red cravat a memorial crumb./ If I couldn’t thank you, being fast asleep/ Know that I am trying with my granite lip.”
Today I’ve tossed bread crumbs into the yard, both to honor Emily Dickinson’s wish and to feed my tiny gay-friendly guest. I feel warmer and more human having done so.