Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Robins

Well, they're not really my robins, but I've been listening and watching them all spring and summer, casually, most of the time, but more intently on occasion. I observed them when they arrived and when they began building nests throughout the courtyard. I was fortunate to have a nest in the arborvitae right outside my bedroom window. However, I remember one June morning I left my window open and was awoken at 3:30 a.m. by a very enthusiastic singer. I love my robins, really, but this was a bit early even for me.

Another robin took habit of perching on my balcony railing post. He'd sing from it while I made myself breakfast and freshly brewed coffee. Occasionally he flew down to take a sip of rainwater that collected in my boot tray on my balcony. I heard the begging calls of their young; they must have had at least two broods, perhaps even a third. Now I wish I had paid attention more closely, but I was still ever mindful of their presence. In recent late evenings I would notice several robins perched atop the roofs of nearby apartment buildings. Presumably there were some perched on my building as well. Watching them through my spotting scope, it seemed like they were keeping their gaze fixed on the setting sun. Was it time, yet? No. Not yet.

Then one morning, just a few days ago, I opened my patio door and took a seat at balcony table. I immediately noticed the robins. From all around my neighborhood, robins were flying quick and nimble, all bound in the same direction. Over a dozen adult robins were calling from rooftop lookouts. They kept coming. More and more showed up and then I realized what I was witnessing - my robins and their kin were preparing for departure.

Calls layered upon calls. And then one by one, but sometimes a few or more at a time, they took flight in a southeasterly direction. They were leaving. It's been a few days and I've only seen one robin in the courtyard since that morning. My singer no longer perches on the balcony post. I can only imagine that by now they're part of a larger flock, perhaps still in some Wisconsin woodland, maybe even Illinois. I have no idea, really. All I know is that the songs have stopped; I hear no more begging calls of young robins, no more morning songs. That which I was mindful of all summer long has abruptly vanished. Now, virtual silence. Well, almost. Gentle sprinkles of fresh rain are beginning to fill the boot tray on my balcony, but it's their brethren to the north who will be next to drink.

"There is one thing that we all must do. If we do everything else but that one thing, we will be lost. And if we do nothing else but that one thing, we will have lived a glorious life."

- Rumi

© 2009 Mike McDowell

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