I’m Glad the Red Robin Sings
In the predawn hours, the robins begin to sing. These are not territorial battle cries, as some would have it, but neighbors saying to neighbors — here am I.
In a social web of connection, this message flits its way across the landscape in advance of the rising sun.
“I am glad the red robin sings” was my first entry in a journal of gratitude I began as part of my recovery from depression two years ago.
I was in the predawn hours of overcoming my depression and getting off from antidepressant medications.
As I penned those words it was difficult to find anything to be grateful for. Not because there were no blessings in my life (there were many), but because while in a state of depression the mind has great difficulty seeing the good.
We tend to focus on the struggle
On April 1st of this year, I heard the first robin sing. We are in northern Minnesota and the robin is the herald of the end of what can be a long winter. It was snowing and blowing outside but the robin, an eternal optimist, was singing its heart out like an April fool.
Like the foolish robin, I am attempting to forge ahead on my path to recovery. I am not by nature an eternal optimist, like the robin, but I am gaining ground.
This year I find much to be grateful for.
Now that I am free from the mind-numbing effects of my antidepressant medications, I feel the gratefulness in my heart!
I just want to say — here am I
A week ago, Saturday, I was feeling a little discouraged. It was a beautiful, sunny day so I drove to one of the many state wildlife sanctuaries in our area and hiked through last year’s meadow grass and brush, to sit by a flowing brook.
Though the ground beneath the grass was still frozen, the grass formed a warm and comfortable cushion. The sun, gaining in strength each day, beat down on me allowing me to roll up my sleeves and soak up a few rays.
I sat quietly in the grass watching the dark water in the brook swirl and roll and bubble.
A bit of a late fall leaf, released from Winter’s icy grip, floated by riding on the current. I leaned back and reclined quietly. The world around me came alive with hope. Hidden in the tall grass, nearby, a pair of sandhill cranes began clucking and chortling to one another. They had been silent and unnoticed upon my arrival.
A crow winged its way across my private landscape cawing to distant friends.
After this quiet time at the water’s edge, I felt renewed and refreshed again.
Such are the simple remedies that nature provides
This week I have been busy with the mechanics of setting up more of what’s needed to make this blog possible.
In between times I’ve been working on enlarging the borders of our vegetable gardens.
I’ve been turning the sod with a spade and shaking the earth from the carpet of grass. Organisms in the soil are good for overall health and gardening is helpful for overcoming depression.
Though the soil is still cold it is wonderful to get my hands into it and to smell the earthiness of it. It is alive and crawling with earthworms, centipedes, and other strange little creatures.
When I retire to the house I can look out the window to see the robins hustling for a meal in the cast up dirt, and the grackles flying off like bandits with clumps of grass and roots to build their nests.
Sugaring maple syrup
I used some muscles last week that I hadn’t used shoveling snow this past winter. A high, storm-damaged branch on the maple tree overhanging our patio needed to come down. Standing on a ladder, with a chainsaw on the end of a long pole, I was able to make the needed cuts.
When the heavy branch thudded to the ground there was an unexpected and sweet reward. The sap in the tree was running and it began to drip.
It was a long drop down, to the blue canning kettle I set on the top of the stepladder. When the wind didn’t blow too hard, we were able to catch some drips.
After boiling the sap down, we came up with about a half-quart of maple syrup. Used sparingly it will be a special treat as summer approaches.
I fulfilled my life-long dream of sugaring maple syrup!
An early harvest
Last fall we harvested our last crop of kale after our first snowfall on November 4th. Kale survives down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit and gets sweeter after a frost.
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This past Saturday, April 21st, 2018 we harvested our first crop of chives. There were still snowbanks on the north side of the house, but we were able to clip chives on the south side. Such is the power of the sun. The rhubarb harvest will soon follow.
I’m very happy that spring has sprung and that hope springs eternal in the human breast!
Before you go!
Witness the springtime miracle of robins feeding their babies in the nest under the eave of our woodpile in 2013. Simply amazing. Author’s videos.
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The garden provides not only clean, healthy, whole foods but exercise and hopeful inspiration.