Very, very reluctantly, I tore myself from the warm bed and got up early to begin gathering the piles of income tax paperwork. My rather haphazard way of tucking important receipts or documents away the past few years, has left me with a Herculean annual task to be done.
I listened to the radio while I had breakfast and heard the weather report. It was a good day to hunker down inside, except for a brief foray out in the elements to run the car and shovel the snow.
Because this Winter has been so mild and I got a lot of walking in, I’ve not accomplished many of the tasks that I usually do when the weather is crummy. Like digitizing all my photo albums. Last year when I bought the new camera, I also bought a photo scanner, intending to finish digitizing all my pictures, mostly to use here in the blog. I did a big chunk of them when I got the printer/scanner, but this photo scanner allows you to tweak the pictures to get out the red eye and distortions from photos taken with flash bars attached to instamatics and pocket cameras. (I might have just alienated my younger readers with that last line.) Anyway, that was a back burner project and it will wait now until next Winter to be done.
I worked diligently then finally peeled the radio headphones from my ears in order to start layering up to go outside. The pale morning light was just starting to filter through the blind. I heard tiny cheeps and chirps and knew the sparrows were snugged up along the outside bedroom window ledge, protected by the patio roof from the brutal cold.
I knew those barely audible peeps were not Buddy’s since he was in dreamland in the T.V. room, his head tucked under his wing, a tiny feather ball of fluff and love, with a dozen different warm wraps piled onto the cage.
I also knew when I went around to the backyard to shovel off the patio, I’d see dainty footprints on the ledge and back porch.
The sparrows always seek refuge from the elements here … it is their safe haven since “their trees” were cut down after they became brittle and diseased.
I still miss that pair of tall pear trees that Eric Parrish and his crew felled after a vicious windstorm split them in half back in November 2014. Those trees were a mess of blossoms come Spring and even the gentlest of breezes would strip those tiny petals off and scatter them all over the lawn. Sometimes it looked as if there was snow on the grass as the blades were covered in pear blossoms. In the Fall, those trees never dropped their leaves ‘til late December, long after the last yard waste pickup, then, those blood-red leaves would be scattered all over the snow the entire Winter.
The sparrows loved those two trees as they were protected by the leaves most of the year, and, even when the branches were finally bare, they sought refuge up there, feeling safe and singing their hearts out, even on the coldest days. They made me have a song in my heart on my daily trudge during Polar Vortex #1 two Winters ago.
Finally, I was suited and booted up, and shovel in hand, I opened the door. It was sunny and bright, not that the sun was doing much good, except hanging out in that brilliant blue sky and illuminating Jack Frost’s handiwork on my neighbor Marge’s garage window.
The last weather forecast I heard was five degrees above zero, with a wind chill in the minus single digits, and that was just before I headed out. I verified that temperature on Marge’s big thermometer – yup, that needle hovered halfway between the “0” and “5”. Yikes!!
That temperature reading had me recalling the old W.C. Fields line “It ain’t a fit night out for man or beast” and I was thinking that the morning was not much kinder to our little feathered friends.
I glanced over at the chain-link fence where a few forlorn-looking sparrows sat clustered together. Awww – my heart just melted for them. I wondered why they were not swarming the brimming birdfeeders and suet holder with a fresh whole cake, both which were just a few yards from their icy steel perch? I wanted to scoop them up and carry them into the garage with me.
Yes, I know I’m just a bleeding heart.
The snow had blown across parts of the still-icy sidewalk and I was forced to walk slowly. I watched my breath coming out in tiny puffs and I mused that it looked like a miniature version of the long plumes coming from the chimneys up and down the street.
I opened the garage door and startled two fox squirrels. They stopped in their tracks halfway up the tall tree where they had been chasing one another. I wondered if they were scampering like that to keep the blood flowing and stay warm, or, just because it was Valentine’s Day weekend?
The snow was minimal and I was suited up for the elements, so momentarily I toyed with the idea of going for a walk after I finished shoveling, but decided instead to share the love and shovel both neighbors’ walks on either side so they could stay in their jammies all day.
Besides, I know in my heart that a walk in these frigid temps was just a lame excuse to keep from going back to the tax task.
Image “Heartbleed: patch needed” by Rejon from openclipart.org