I know I’m not alone when I say that I detest the win­ter sea­son. It has only got­ten worse in the past few years. In fact, since I have enthu­si­as­ti­cally embraced the green liv­ing lifestyle, my con­tempt for win­ter has become a bit of an obses­sion. I may have to become one of those silver-haired snowbirds.

The ther­mostats are turned down and we have resorted to means other than our heat pumps to keep warm. It doesn’t always work, I should add.

I have got­ten so cold that I have resorted to wear­ing those incred­i­bly light­weight but warm Patag­o­nia capi­lene long under­wear most days. While mall shop­ping a few weeks ago I was tick­led to find cash­mere fin­ger­less gloves that I can wear while typ­ing. I bought two pair. And Brook­stone had Tem­purpedic slip­pers that I tuck my feet into at my desk. They pretty much park there because they are too clumsy to walk around in.

But win­ter is not with­out its rewards.

Last month, in the mid­dle of win­ter on a par­tic­u­larly frigid day, I had the elec­tri­cian here swap­ping out one set of pro­gram­ma­ble ther­mostats for ones that I can actu­ally under­stand how to pro­gram. As we were chat­ting, I glanced out the front door and stopped mid-sentence.

A group of six East­ern Blue­birds was explor­ing the Pur­ple Mar­tin gourds that I have pro­cras­ti­nated mov­ing in for the winter.

I watched, trans­fixed, as they moved in and out of the gourds and perched on the sup­port poles. Once I regained my senses, I scram­bled for my cam­era and long lens to take pho­tos. Then I grabbed my Sib­ley guide to see whether it’s that unusual to see blue­birds here in November.

Appar­ently, it’s not unheard of for groups of blue­birds to stay north­ward and nest together rather than head­ing for warmer quar­ters. Mar­garet at A Way to Gar­den said she has even seen them near her New York home in winter.

Sadly, they didn’t stick around, so I’m still going to have to store those Pur­ple Mar­tin gourds.

In the mean­time, I’m keep­ing a keen eye out for the poten­tial return of Evening Gros­beaks. The Win­ter King Hawthorns that line the dri­ve­way near our house are loaded with the fat, red berries that attracted a flock of them last winter.

I only hope I am look­ing out the win­dows when they arrive. It’s my small con­so­la­tion for hav­ing to dress like an Eskimo in my own home.

Be Socia­ble, Share!

16 Responses to “I Hate Winter…But It Has Its Rewards”

  1. Margaret Roach Says:

    I am so impressed that you were able to record them photographically…what a moment! Usu­ally I stay trans­fixed too long to catch any­body.
    I am like­wise jeal­ous of those hawthorns. I can’t grow them, not because of har­di­ness (I’ve seen many cul­ti­vars in the cold, cold, cold Chicago Botanic Gar­den) but because of the inci­dence of rust fun­gus from our preva­lent East­ern red cedars. Or so the best woody plant nurs­ery­man here has always told me…but now I want some. Your fault.

  2. Gail Says:

    Hi Robin! What a sight it must have been…they are gor­geous lit­tle birds and quite lovely in blue with red trim. I do like your hawthorn lined drive. gail

  3. Mary Says:

    Hi Robin!

    Win­ter here isn’t as frigid but I still remem­ber Mary­land and dread the cold. Since mov­ing to Char­lotte, my blood has thinned and feel chilled when it’s under 45 degrees.

    It isn’t rare to see a flock of East­ern Blue­birds in the mid­dle of win­ter in the Mid-Atlantic region. Back in 03, dur­ing a hard freeze in Delaware, I looked out back and saw a dozen of them drink­ing from my heated pond.

    Lucky you!


  4. Nancy Bond Says:

    What a lovely group of beau­ti­ful birds! Their color is so strik­ing. And the hawthorns are a win­ter delight, you’re right! Per­son­ally, I love the win­ter — up til March and April when it seems to stretch out forever. :)

  5. Jen Says:

    I have to say, my own mouth is gap­ing open look­ing at these birds. How great that you got such nice photos!

  6. deb Says:

    What dar­ling birdies.

  7. Mother Nature Says:

    The blue­birds may have been check­ing out the bird­houses as a place to roost.

  8. Cameron (Defining Your Home Garden) Says:

    You sound so cold! My good­ness, you make me grate­ful that we did a pas­sive solar design. Of course, here in North Car­olina, we don’t have the pro­longed cold.

    Our blue­birds are year-round res­i­dents here. The blue­bird houses line our neigh­bor­hood fences and they peck for worms in our meadow all the time.


  9. Rick Says:

    So that is where my blue­birds went! To visit Robin on the east coast. As the blue­bird is my state’s offi­cial bird, I have a fond­ness of them. They come and visit me each spring, and the spring of 2007 I con­vinced a nest­ing pair to stay and hatch out some. They are won­der­ful to watch.

  10. Zacand his pond plants Says:

    Lucky you, I haven’t seen very many pretty birds here in Ohio all win­ter. We have a few bird­feeds in the back gar­den but they are only attract­ing robins and squirrles.

    It has been so cold this win­ter so far, we have a deicer on the pond and some birds come to drink the open water but mostly just a negh­bors cat. Maybe he is keep­ing the birds away?

  11. Dee/reddirtramblings Says:

    You made me cold just read­ing this. The blue­bird pho­tos are fab by the way. They were so cute peek­ing out of the gourds. We have a lot of birds here because of the feed­ers, but it’s cold here too.~~Dee

  12. Daniel (small kitchen garden) Says:

    My mom was very fond of blue­birds. Kind of sad because we never saw them in NY state. Liv­ing in cen­tral PA, I’ve seen blue­birds try to set­tle in my blue­bird boxes and in my mar­tin houses… always to be chased away by Eng­lish spar­rows. The blue­birds do some­times stick around all win­ter. When­ever I see one, I think of my mom.

  13. Selma Roth Says:

    I know how you feel. I lived on the east coast for 24 years, a migrant from Cal­i­for­nia, and I hated the win­ter. But I have recently come to real­ize how much nature win­ter has to offer. It’s quiet and slow-paced, but spe­cial in its own way, like seeng blue­birds against a white back­drop! I’m deter­mined I’m going to go nature walk­ing in win­ter with a whole dif­fer­ent way of see­ing. Thanks for shar­ing these delight­ful pictures!

  14. Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening Says:

    You are allowed to be warm. If you are wear­ing all that gear & still can’t keep warm, it’s time to turn the ther­mo­stat up just a tick. Heat pumps still use far less energy than the fur­naces up north.

  15. randy Says:

    the only thing reward­ing about win­ter is when it’s over

  16. Patti Says:

    I had sea­sonal BB in Allen­town, PA, but they stayed all year at our home in East Hamp­ton, CT. My dear neigh­bor and I were lucky enough to have them nest every year in our boxes. One sum­mer we were even lucky enough to see all 3 babies fledge­from the box. We planted accord­ingly, put out meal­worm and did our best to pro­tect them from preda­tors, espe­cially house sparrows.

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.


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