The Finchy Time

     This is an in-between time.  It's neither winter nor spring.  "Unlocking" is what John Gardner calls it in October Light; here in Maine it's mud season.  The sun is warm, but it's cold out. Snow covers our fields, but the sap is running in the trees.  People start thinking about quitting their jobs because we've all been mired in too long, but our patience is sustained by hope coloring the pages of seed catalogs.
     I call it a finchy time of year. My bird feeders have been inundated with both house and goldfinches for three to four weeks now. Finches are not loners. Glance out the window one moment and you see a chickadee at the feeder. Get your coffee, glance back, and every perch is filled with a house finch. And they won't move until they're ready. I call them “the piggy finches” but that made Anna mad when she was little because it sounded like I was being mean to them. Which I was. But she was right; I shouldn't be calling them names.
     That's my mud season attitude towards the finches.
     My sunlight-and-sap-running attitude is an upwelling thankfulness for the burbling birdsong that comes from those house finches every morning outside my bedroom window. This is the beginning of the glorious days to come, the days of the dawn chorus that lasts through June. It's the incoming tide, the uphill part of a mountain hike, the crescendo of a symphony, the first pages of a good book, the smell of onions and garlic cooking when you walk into a friend's house for dinner. Anticipation has its own sweetness, and the finches are the first taste of spring.

That's Anna's drawing of a house finch.  Isn't she amazing?

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