Some days it verges on being warm. Friday afternoon, for instance, I was out raking the back yard. I started with a fleece vest over a long-sleeved shirt over a camisole. But about thirty minutes in and I'd peeled off to the camisole layer, enjoying the only-slightly chilled air against my skin as I worked. See that piled of leaves I moved to the curb next to my Christmas tree? All that will be picked up by the city and composted. My method for dealing with the unbelievably heavy carpet of oak leaves in my back yard is to rake them onto a tarp and drag them to the street. As I was emptying one load onto the pile, a couple of men came by in a truck and handed me a flyer for yard work they do. I'd say that it had nothing to do with what I was wearing except that while one of them explained, at length, all the types of yard work they offer, the other grinned dopily at me.
Other days, it's freezing and I'm happy to stay inside and watch the critters that visit my deck. Except the other morning. It was like a scene from "The Birds." I was sitting on my sun porch enjoying my morning coffee, when a cardinal landed on the railing of my deck. A minute later, his mate joined him. They watched me. From the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of bright red as yet another cardinal landed on top of the bird feeder. I glanced out the window and noticed that it was empty. That cardinal then flew over to perch on the railing with his friends. They were soon joined by a wren. The birds would turn to look meaningfully at the empty feeder, and then return their gaze to me. I saw what was happening here. The songbirds believed they could intimidate me into putting down my mug and leaving the warmth of my cozy house to tend to the feeder. I made a show of turning the page of the book I was reading, to let them know that I was impervious to their tactics. The tension was palpable. They fluffed up their feathers to look bigger and kept their beady eyes fixed on me. I sat wrapped in a quilt, immovable as a mountain, and stared back through the rising steam of my coffee. It was an epic battle of wills.
And that's why I was out in the cold early that morning filling the bird feeders.