The birds of winter

birds of winterI sleep with my window open all year long, and for whatever reason this winter has been milder than most. So the bird population in my yard and along the river opposite my house has barely diminished all year.

And every morning, it sounds just a little bit like spring.

Of course I know in my bones it is only January. I can tell by the angle of the sun as it slants through my pale linen curtains and hits the tops of my stubbornly closed eyelids. I squint, push my pillow up into a mound to block the light for just a few minutes more, but really I know that the game is up.

And in January, this wakeup call occurs at a significantly different hour than it does in July.

But still the birds dance past my window, rustling through the woefully untended underbrush in my side yard, an area which if I were more of a frightening sort of Austenite than I truly am I would refer to as a prettyish sort of wilderness.

The somewhat disturbing fact that I regularly refer to a stroll through the heather gardens out front as a turn about the room notwithstanding.

These birds that prance about just on the other side of my window are often the reason I give in, get up, and wake myself to the world and its duties when I do. Not so much because they disturb me, or because they stir some tiresome sense of honor and obligation to get up and be a grownup about things, but because my cats, you see, are delusional.

Birds twittering about only an arm’s reach away? Making their cheerful little foraging noises and apparently unaware of the stalking killers that lie concealed behind that slightly open screen window? I’d call that irresistible.

So would they, of course, my two elderly and extremely unagile cats, as they demonstrate every time they take the bait, leaping from floor to bed to my face and eventually, if god is good this morning, to windowsill.

Sometimes, god is not good, and they are left merely squatting on my cheekbones, their front paws pressed up against the window, their heads jerking disconsolately as the damn birds go swaggering back and forth in front of them, on maddening parade.

Those birds. They know.

Oh, they know all right. Don’t even try to tell me that this isn’t their chief form of amusement this time of year. Taunting and tantalizing the house cats of the neighborhood. Those domesticated felines who sleep in warmth and comfort all year long, and who fancy themselves wild and important only when it pleases them. Who are eagle-eyed and alert when convenient, benthic when not.

Sometimes, like today, the moment of clarity passes. The cat loses interest, or has an epiphany relating to the futility of existence, or simply decides to pretend not to care. And then his hind legs will slither around a bit in that slightly arthritic way of an old, ungraceful cat, birds forgotten as he lets himself drop back down to the floor and then goes padding around the turn in the hall in search of more easily apprehended food.

And I am left to reconstitute the bunchiness of my pillow, to shield my Saturday morning eyes against the bright winter morning light, breathing in the cool piney air and listening to the birds congratulate each other on another job well done.


Image by cybernorn

2 Thoughts.

  1. I loved reading this! Until last fall I also had “two elderly and extremely unagile cats”. Their prey was the squirrels outside my window. I would lay money down that those squirrels were taunting my cats and thoroughly enjoying it!

  2. I prefer easily-apprehended food, too. And you are too Romantic, sleeping with windows open in winter. You’re letting bought air out! ;>

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