It’s the first day of spring.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, the wind chill is -12 degrees. I’m working at my desk in fingerless wool gloves, looking tragically like Bob Cratchit. The yard’s snow-filled birdbath and pot of greenery looked spirited in December. Not now.
But it has been the site of a spring miracle.
The kind that takes your breath away. The kind that you feel honored to have seen because you could have missed it completely. And having seen it, I remember it on days when life feels flat, ordinary, hopelessly stuck in ice.
Ten years ago we lived in North Carolina, and spring swallowed us up in an annual spree of blooms. We had azaleas six-feet high in gorgeous red and lavender. Blossoming pink and white dogwood trees surrounded the house. Purple and yellow tulips dotted our gardens. I always say we looked like an entry in the Rose Bowl Parade.
One afternoon Maggie and I were backing down the driveway when something remarkably blue caught my eye. It was a blue so intensely out of place that I stopped the car, knowing something was amiss. Six bluebirds circled that birdbath. Three pairs ruffled their iridescent feathers and surveyed the housing options on our lot. I had never been that close to a bluebird, and now I was four feet from six of them. They looked at me. I looked back. We hoped together.
Eventually a pair took residence across the street in a lovely birdhouse built by our neighbor. We became the cafe. Over time, I was trained to deliver mealworms at 8 am and 4 pm. The male sat patiently on the chair outside the window where I wrote, waiting for me to bring the food NOW. When I emerged from the back door, he flew onto a branch and waited until I left so he could eat in peace. Maggie loved spotting him and calling out, “Mama, your blue baby needs you!”
They returned for two more springs.
One day I discovered my friend Robin loved bluebirds, too. While I had played the obedient servant to mine, she took charge of hers, calling them by whistling. It was like watching a Disney movie when she showed me. Because Robin is a patient, devoted soul, they even let her hold their babies.
It is a fine thing to be trusted by bluebirds.
None have settled with us in St. Paul, but I believe the miracle of those six beautiful creatures lingers at our birdbath even now. Despite the snow and wind, I feel their shimmering blue hope.