Birds

Pastel on paper, 1995

Yesterday at Resort Creek pond, John and I ate lunch while sitting on our snowmobiles in the fog. “Take off your helmet, and listen to this bird,” I told him. “I hear it,” he replied. Flocks of crossbills were somewhere in the trees, singing. Not just calling to each other, but singing. Singing like it’s time to think about setting up a territory, attracting a mate, getting on with life.

Today we rode snowmobiles in a snow squall so intense that I was nearly blinded, and the ice crystals hit my face like fine needles piercing the skin. Consider, I thought to myself, that the bluebirds are already on their way back to Washington. It still feels like winter, but in less than a month the bluebirds will show up at Swauk Prairie with no fanfare at all. It will be grim and mucky as the snow melts, but these little flecks of sky will have returned from their tropical vacation to get on with life.

The sight of them makes my heart physically lift in my chest.

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