Wednesday, April 02, 2008


If you live in New York City, or any city, do you notice the birds? I had no idea a) there were so many different kinds of birds or b) they came back in the spring or c) that I actually missed them and am glad they are back.

I mean, I knew all that, in theory. But here I am, noticing them, excited to see a nuthatch, or the gold finch's coat turning more golden as the weather warms, just like the books tell me. The winter has been so long and cold and dark and snowy and now it's still cold but we have sugar houses to warm us -- Dave is boiling some gift sap as we speak, and we will have homemade syrup in a day or two -- and the light is different and the trees are starting to bud and most of the snow has melted. I am delighted it's still chilly enough for a fire in my fireplace, and I love the warm sun that reaches our house and isn't blocked yet by the leaves.

I walked around the yard on Saturday because I wanted to be outside, but I didn't know what to do. Lily was playing with a friend. Should I rake all the oak leaves? Lots are still soggy. The sides of the street are full of sand. I ended up collecting kindling and bringing in some of the split wood -- we've burned about half of our half a chord.

This just in: Dave says the liquid on the stove tastes like very watery maple syrup.

Anyway, back to the birds. They are really cool, although I confess I feel a certain disappointment that we don't have anything terribly exotic. Not sure what I had in mind, probably a bald eagle or something else that wouldn't really be happy in these woods. Nevertheless, I thrill every time I see our cardinal with his very red coat, and his lovely wife with her orange beak. I love those yellowing goldfinches. I am very attached to our chickadees, especially because they have hung around all winter, so I'm loyal to them. And I hope and pray we get a wood thrush again and the evil cat next door doesn't eat it this time.

I remember sitting in my bedroom in Brooklyn in the winter, knowing it would be roasting hot in a few months. I feel the same way now. I can't imagine swimming in one of these local rivers. But swim we will, and hike: I just got Lily a cool backpack because I want to do a lot of hikes this summer. It has one of those hydration systems so she can carry her own water and suck on it as she walks. As an extra splurge I got her a pedometer. Maybe we can keep track of how many miles she walks when we climb Sugarloaf, and chart the difference between that and, say, Mount Toby. I can't wait!

You should smell this sap, guys, my kitchen smells like syrup! Those Indians were just amazing. As Dave says, they must have been really bored in the late winter, too, to invent this stuff.

Thanks for coming back, birds! It sure is great to see you! Chirp chirpity chirp!

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