Strange birds

All puffed up and glaring, the lone robin has resumed the same spot he claimed yesterday on a branch in the nearest cherry tree just beyond my window. His anger seems understandable for the harbinger of spring hardly expects a greeting of snow.

Not only does it continue to fall, even if the flakes now only meander occasionally, but the ground remains solidly frozen beneath a thick impenetrable blanket of snow. What impels such a fragile creature to seek such cold comfort? My grubs (actually purchased for the occasion) are long gone. A mixture of dry raisins and other unidentifiable fruits remains bagged on a corner of the kitchen counter.

Would he come close enough to sample? The holly bushes are scarlet and full but my faulty memory doesn’t tell me if the robins feasted there last spring or if it was only the cedar waxwings that descended in a noisy pack to pick them clean.

The retriever, meanwhile, startles me with his adamant insistence that SOMETHING is out there. My eyes scan the colorless landscape, seeing little as I search from just beyond the window, down the slope, across the frozen lake (which held returning geese last year at this time), through the row of trees beyond and on into and across the distant field.

The dog looks up in scorn. How can this human master be so blind? Nose pointed where he expects me to look, his punctuated outrage continues.

Ah, yes. There. Larger than most of the animals I expect to see, two turkeys begin a matronly stroll through the brush and onto the far side of the ice-bound lake. The barks from inside concern them not at all. This of course is disturbing to the tail-wagging retriever. Harmless beyond measure besides being too lazy to run far and too wise to attempt another hazardous step above the water (some lessons learned once are learned well) I pull open the door to the deck.

He runs to where the water’s edge would be if there were water and continues a hearty bark. To my amazement the forward of the two birds actually takes wing, one of the funniest sights, and somehow makes it to the nearest tree. The other, wiser or perhaps just older, stops to assess the situation, waits patiently and then continues his leisurely stroll.

Quite pleased that his benign complaining merited some reaction (after all, did he really expect anything more?), the retriever watches and, once realizing nothing more is forthcoming, retreats to the house. He shakes the snow, by now falling more determinedly, from his coat and scratches to be readmitted.

A nose-to-nose with the cat who, growing wiser with age, has not chosen to go out this morning, is appropriate greeting along with a pat from a grownup.

His job completed he stretches out on his favorite rug and sleeps.

He is waiting.

Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to