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.


Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, will be released later in 2014 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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