I must admit that, during all my travelling jaunts of the past month, part of me was worrying. I heard tell of the terrible cold blast back home in Western New York, of plunging temperatures unheard of for decades, even in that chilly corner of the world. And I thought about our bird feeder hanging sad and empty on the porch and kicked myself for not making better arrangements to keep the little guzzlers fed. Coming back late last night, I half expected arrays of tiny frozen corpses - well all right, I do have a vivid imagination. Before I'd even started to unpack, I rushed to fill the feeder again, risking life and limb climbing on the wicker porch chair, which always reminds me that I have to find a better means of ascent before I break my neck.
This morning, things started slowly. Just one chickadee. A lone survivor? I waited in trepidation. Then, a sudden flash of red - the cardinal, safe and sound. Then along came the nuthatch, feeding upside down in his disconcerting way. Then the finches appeared and soon left, disgusted I'd forgotten to include the thistle seed. Then more chickadees - four, five six... and finally, with a flourish, Woody the downy woodpecker. All present and correct! That just leaves the juncos and doves but they don't use the feeder anyway. I felt like BBC correspondent Brian Hanrahan in the Falklands War, famously watching the Harriers return safely to the aircraft carrier and not being allowed to say how many there were, announced, "I counted them all out and I counted them all back."
(And any more complaining squawks about tardy filling of the feeder will from now on fall on deaf ears.)