The first of the year white fluffy snowflakes drift down past my window early this morning. A soft powdery dusting until the ground reminds me of a powdered donut. A sweet carbohydrate multi-caloric treat paired with a hot cup of coffee. Welcome Winter I whisper. Then shiver as I step out onto the porch to get a different perspective. The temperature dropped overnight from the mid 50’s to the low 20’s. Brrr.
It is after all December. It is not unexpected.
But what I see below, above and all around me, are not only swirling and diving snowflakes, but something truly unexpected. A bevy, a clutch, a flock, or whatever you call them, a barrage of red breasted robins in full frontal assault, swooping, flapping, diving, landing, and lifting back into the air in a full feathered frenzy.
A red robin rebellion. Rioting and ricocheting from tree limb, to eave, to branch, to patio, up and down and back again. Not one or two or three little birdies. No this is a ginormous flash mob of out of control robin red breasts, fully grown, pudgy fat bellied birdies. As I hold my breath so as not to frighten them, one poor birdie, sans his reading glasses, hurls headfirst into the windowpane. I wince in empathy and look to see if it has survived. I see it on the patio below, stunned and shaken, but thankfully no broken neck or hip.
I worry about those things as well little birdie.
And for a moment, a magical, inexplicable moment, our eyes meet as the confusion lifts. We are having the same exact thought at the same exact time.
Something is amiss.
Someone is seriously out of place.
As I too, am approaching the age of addled thoughts and misplaced keys, I can sympathize. What am I looking for? What was about to do? Where did I put the remote control? Is the garage door down? Am I the only one who gets confused or slightly turned around. Occasionally lost. Taken a wrong turn?
Then I see it. The reason for the misplaced season. There is a pattern here amidst the chaos and flapping of wings. Each dive bomber settles briefly on the patio to sip at the tiny puddles of melted snow. They see this landing zone as a liquid oasis. A refueling stop. A Quik Trip stop on the way out of town. The diving temperatures gave them a jolt. A wake up call to get the heck out of Dodge.
I take out a piece of cardboard and a black Sharpie.
I write in large bold letters.
SOUTH…GO SOUTH…YOU MADE A WRONG TURN
The birds ignore me and continue to swoop and dive. So I resort to more dramatic gestures. I stand on the deck, and speak in my most avian and aggressively passionate voice…Go South my birdie friends. Toward the warm air, the palm trees, the white sand beaches.
Think Margaritaville. Florida. The swim up bar and a poolside Margarita. Oh where are you Jimmy Buffet when we need you?
Skip the sips I cry. Flee. Tell your leader to reset the GPS. Call up SIRI and ask for directions. I know for a fact she speaks avian. If you must, Google…warmer climes. You are lost and flying blind.
I stand quietly and stare at what at first sight seemed so out of place, but I can be impatient and quick to judge. Perhaps there is a plan here. A plan to get home safely to friends and family.
Who has not or is not contemplating a holiday trip across the miles to see loved ones, only to end up sleeping overnight in an airport, flights cancelled due to weather. Or a sudden snowstorm stranding us on the side of the highway, deep in the dark of night, all rooms in the inn closed or taken. No Vacancies.
Home. Home for the Holidays can be a long hard trek. Christmas has a way of pulling us back to where we began. An emotional homecoming tug on our heartstrings. The trek is difficult for the traveler, yet those who wait by the door or at the airport, arms open awaiting arrival, they are praying as well.
For a safe journey.
For the simple joy of that first embrace, folding into one another with tears of welcome.
Even harder, are those souls who know that the ones we love, cannot return. Will not return. Yet, we keep a place at the table, as we bow our heads and give thanks for those who arrived safely, and extend our love to those beyond.
“I’ll be home for Christmas…the song says…”You can count on me.”
I wish my little birdie friends Godspeed.
A scene from a favorite movie flashes in my mind’s eye. ET extends his long alien fingertip toward Eliot, and as the tips glows red, as red as the glow in the center of his chest, he says…
I’ll Be Right Here.
I whisper that to my birdie friends.Then to my family and friends and neighbors. To all my fellow travelers on the journey to Christmas…
I’ll be right here.
P.S. The next morning is much colder than the day before and outside my window the trees are bare. The branches are empty. The eaves untouched. The birdies have flown. Followed their instincts and headed to their intended destination.
Together. Side by side.
Safe travels to all. But to be on the safe side, make a quick Quik Trip stop. For bottled water and a bag of Twizzlers. ’Tis the season to have a reason for a remarkable road trip toward the ones we love.
Footnote: I know that the picture I posted is NOT a robin. Forgive me. It was really cold and the birdies would not stop long enough to pose for me. But you get the idea, right?