My friend the robin


We’ve got it figured out now, the robin and I.

She settles comfortably  in her nest above my kitchen door until I step out on the porch to toss coffee grounds into the grass; then she streaks to the nearest tree with a startled squawk (she is always startled when I open the door), and scolds from the safety of a tree branch or my neighbor’s roof until I go back inside. Then she returns, as well, until the next time I open the door.

But I threw her a curve-ball last Saturday, when the 80-degree temperature lured me and a book out into the grass for a half-hour of tanning.

She flew out as always when I stepped out, and scolded while I laid out a beach towel and tried to find a way to keep both my head and my feet safely on it. But then I didn’t go back inside.

She scolded from a tree branch, moving impatiently from branch to branch. A chickadee took up a spot on my  neighbor’s roof to watch the scene; a bee ignored us all and kept visiting dandelions. Her anxious chirps stayed constant until I was just about ready to go back in; and in the silence that followed, I heard the running of water, the rustle of baby leaves on the trees, and the soft hum of traffic on the main street of town a few blocks away.

We live in town, but we’re on the edges of it, and the animal sounds mix with town sounds in a never-ceasing murmur of life. There’s the sound of cars passing, an occasional freight train laden with coal rumbling just by just yards from my kitchen door, footsteps jogging past on their way to the nature preserve up the hill, voices laughing as groups stroll by, and dogs barking as they pass another, ears alert, necks straining against collars, noses tantalized by each other’s scent. Sometimes, in the evening, I hear church bells from the heart of town.

And then there’s the birds; an almost constant chorus of chirps, scolding cries, and clucks. A stream or run-off creek disappears underground a few blocks behind us, then reappears across the road, and the tangle of vines and ferns and small trees is a breeding ground for frogs, whose croaks start up about the time the church bells ring.

I fell asleep last night to the soft singing of raindrops on the street outside my open window, and the answering chorus of the frogs; and I slept long and deeply.

I hope my neighbor the robin did as well.

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