Each morning, I rise from our bed on the second floor of the little house where we have lived for thirty-five years and lumber across the hall into the bathroom. A window is set above the toilet. It’s the perfect height for me to look out before I rise to take a morning shower.

The window overlooks a set of bird feeders that hang from a metal stanchion. A blue spruce stands a few feet away from the feeders. The conifer is thirty-eight years old. I know because Trish and I planted it not once but three times—the first, in a field where we had hoped to build our home, a second time, when a few years later, it accompanied us to the home we purchased when she and I first married, and again, when we moved to a twelve-acre combination of fallow fields and woodlot where we settled for the past thirty-five years.

Farther back and to the other side of the feeders, three sugar maples grow tightly together. I’ve nailed cages to their trunks that we fill with suet. Beyond the spruce grow two black pines and another maple tree. The hardwoods that were a mere fifteen, perhaps twenty feet tall around the time our house was constructed, now dwarf the single conifer, and have grown twice the height of the house.

Beyond the trees is the electric fence that spans the interior four or five acres of the property. The fence keeps the deer out and our dogs in. Beyond, is a sometimes-stream that dries up in August, but during the rest of the year slips into a small pond with an earthen dam surrounded by a woodlot where I harvest trees to be cut and split to fuel our wood stove.

Staring out the window, something always catches my eye, keeps my interest for a while. This being the second week of March, a number of juncos join a few mourning doves pecking for seeds that have fallen to the frozen ground. A mixed flock of house and gold finches flit around a tube feeder while chickadees sweep down from the little spruce, take a seed, and then fly back to eat the morsel in peace. Tits and nuthatches periodically join in while across the way a rose-headed woodpecker and two downies peck away at the suet cakes.


Some mornings a pair of pileated woodpeckers sweep down from the woodlot to dominate the suet cages. I have read that these birds mate for life, and Trish and I have been lucky enough to view these woody-woodpecker-like birds since we first arrived here.

This morning a small family of bluebirds suddenly appears. The little blue comets flutter around the wooden nesting boxes, where the previous spring, they spent the first few weeks of their lives. One or another slip inside to check out the accommodations for this year’s broods.

I know these birds will leave and not return until the earth warms and the insects that they eat are once again active. Even so, their appearance marks the beginning of spring or at least the end of winter. Soon, the phoebes will once again build their nest under the eve of Trish’s potting shed, the robins will stutter-step, with one eye pointed toward the dew-dampened grass, and I’ll be casting a bit of fur and feather, perhaps a soft-hackled wet fly, to the little brook trout of Bonnie Brook.






  1. rivertoprambles Says:

    Nothing says Spring like the returning robins, bluebirds, woodcock, and song sparrows, among other avian spirits. Also, nice photo of the piliateds!

  2. forgottentrout Says:

    I do feel sorry for the field mice. About this time of year, I make the rounds evicting them from their winter digs to make room in the wooden boxes scattered around our property for the song birds to build their nests.

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