The birds are back

black-capped chickadee

The chickadee wonderfully evokes the spirit of spring, with its lively, acrobatic, curious flitting and darting through the awakening world.

It was a harder winter than we’ve had in recent years, with late February storms well below zero. I’m at something of a “perfect storm” at the moment with work–senior research essays to read, a final deadline for a 166-yearbook to meet, and end of quarter grading to complete–so, no spring clean up and gardening chores. Just a wistful sense of release. For a time, life is easier–its beauty apparent as much to the senses as to the mind.

I’d put out a new bird feeder and sprinkled millet on the ground, impatiently awaiting the return of our neotropical birds. Though others reported robins at their places, here I had seen nothing. Noah came to mind, standing at the bow of the Ark, scanning the sky for any sign of the dove.

It’s not just the cold, dark weather. Our lives are inseparable from the lives of others, and sometimes we mistake hard weather for something more durably wrong with the world, acting as though we can force spring through willful moments of abandon, as if the world will warm if we take off our coats. We move when we need to wait, we look to the horizon when we need to look up, we leave when we need to return,

Hard times never last. The things that abide do so by returning, again and again. Spring is a time for returning.