Winter Morning in the Forest

Monday mornings in the forest in upstate New York are bleak and cold.  I no longer have to leave the house early in the morning to drive to work, but it’s not easy to be cooped up without purpose.   Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday, so staying inside waiting for the game was relaxing.  Now I am looking for something comforting before today’s snowfall begins.

The roads are covered with ice.  Snowbanks make driving hazardous, and the snow is no longer pristine white but instead is gray and dirty.  Usually I can find comfort watching the birds at the feeders in the back yard.

Today one of my neighbor’s cats is sitting under one of the bird feeders waiting for breakfast.  She is a huge, fluffy calico cat, probably cute at moments in her life, but right now not so much.  I don’t see any birds, and this time of morning the little nuthatches and chickadees, my favorite birds, would normally be at the feeder attached to the kitchen window.  The morning doves would be gathering under the feeder attached to the tree and the woodpeckers would be pecking at the rough bark of dying pine trees looking for bugs or checking out the suet in the suet holder.

The squirrels are not bothered by the cat.  They have discovered the peanut holder hung on a pine tree farther back in the woods and one is hanging upside down at the suet feeder, enjoying his breakfast.  The cat has endless patience.  She has now moved over to a large snowbank near the peanut feeder and is standing motionless on the top of the snow, fluffy tail straight out behind her.  I’m not sure what that pose means.  Does she see a a bird I don’t?

She watches a squirrel pull a peanut out of the feeder and scamper away.  She makes a half-hearted attempt to pounce at him, but he’s fast.  He runs around a while with the peanut in his mouth.  The cat seems to be gone and then I see her head peek up over the top of a snowbank.  Still she knows an attempt to catch the squirrel would end in disappointment.  He scurries up a pine and is gone.

I want the cat to go home.  She is a frequent visitor to our backyard throughout the year.  The seasons mean nothing to her.  She doesn’t mind the snow or the heat of the summer.  She just waits and hopes for some kind of action, a little bit like me inside on a gray winter morning waiting for spring but without quite so much patience.  I hope she will be disappointed today.  I keep checking on her and the birds.  No action is happening in the forest behind my house today.  I miss the birds, but I’m comforted by their absence today as their enemy waits for them to arrive.

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