Have you ever heard or read that poem by Emily Dickinson, about hope and feathers? It is one of my favorites.


I sit here with Abi on the right side of me and Charlie on the left, always their pattern, and listen to the daytime sounds outside.

The sound of distant traffic, muted though only a block away. The sounds of the birds out in the front bushes.

Robins are everywhere. On the roof behind me, perched on the privacy fence, hopping along my patio. Suddenly there are so many of them.

So I decided to do some digging into the habits of robins and here’s what I found:

  • Robins migrate more in response to food than to temperature. Fruit is the robin’s winter food source. As the ground thaws in the spring, they switch to earthworms and insects. While the robins may arrive when temperatures reach 37 degrees, this is because their food becomes available not because the robins themselves need warm temperatures.
  • Robins wander in the winter: Temperatures get colder as winter progresses. Robins need more food when it’s cold and more and more of the fruit gets eaten. Robins move here and there in response to diminishing food supplies and harsh weather.

So I guess that mystery is solved. They are here eating the same berries the squirrels stand on my fence and eat from the tree branches that reach into my yard in the corner.

The same tree that has the fragrant white flowers in the springtime.

This is my sole nod to Valentine’s Day. And that’s only because when I was cleaning out the closet I came across these heart stems. On a whim I poked a few into this plant.

I’ve never really decorated for Valentine’s Day. It just kind of passes me by without much thought. I guess I’m not a romantic.

No, nature is my focus year round. I pay more attention to the seasons than I do to holidays. I’d rather watch the birds and squirrels and cycling seasonal changes.

blue jay

Just look at this blue beauty. All the various shades of blue feathers fascinate me. It is like staring at the colors in a crayon box to watch the outdoor birds.

blue jay

Feast your eyes on the back of this blue jay. The blues and blacks intermingling. The feathers somewhat fanned out in the cold. Beautiful.

I am reading “The Hope Chest.”


Amazon blurb:

The discovery of one woman’s heirloom hope chest unveils precious memories and helps three people who have each lost a part of themselves find joy once again.

Ever since she was diagnosed with ALS, fiercely independent Mattie doesn’t feel like herself. She can’t navigate her beloved home, she can’t go for a boat ride, and she can barely even feed herself.

Her devoted husband, Don, doesn’t want to imagine life without his wife of nearly fifty years, but Mattie isn’t likely to make it past their anniversary.

A delivery man just knocked on the door and I signed for this book:


Amazon teaser…

A few minutes after 9 p.m. on Palm Sunday, April 5, 1936, a massive funnel cloud flashing a giant fireball and roaring like a runaway train careened into the thriving cotton-mill town of Tupelo, Mississippi.

It killed more than 200 people, not counting an unknown number of black citizens. One-third of Tupelo’s population, therefore, were not included in the official casualty figures.

When the tornado hits, Dovey, a local laundress, is flung by the terrifying winds into a nearby lake. Bruised and nearly drowned, she makes her way across Tupelo to find her small family.

Her hardworking husband, Virgil, her clever sixteen-year-old granddaughter, Dreama, and Promise, Dreama’s beautiful light-skinned three-month-old son.


I have been reading 3-4 books per week at night lately. When spring arrives and I’m working outside, I probably won’t be doing quite as much reading.

As I was writing this post, one of my favorite poems, by Emily Dickinson, came to mind:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.


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  1. You are a romantic, Brenda! Someone who loves nature as much as you do has a romantic soul, someone who appreciates it as much as you do has the soul of an artist.

  2. Gorgeous photo of the bluebird’s feathers! The beauty and sheer variations of form in the creatures of this earth never ceases to amaze me! I just think: “How is it possible?” And what wonderful beauty and entertainment we can partake in just by looking out our window or strolling in the outdoors. And it’s free. Aren’t we lucky?

  3. We used to feed the birds in our yard. I used to find feathers when I went out to work in the yard. They seemed like thank you notes they left behind. Especially from the crows and flickers. They were very social creatures.

  4. One of my very favorite poems by Dickinson, Brenda.
    I have never done much for Valentine’s Day except to do a few project with my grandkids making Valentines, etc.
    I am always so happy to see the robins return to our area because I know that Spring and warm weather will soon follow. The robins usually get here before things start blooming. xo Diana

  5. I’m entertained daily by the blue jays at my house. I throw out peanuts on the deck. Eventually one will fly up and sit on the railing and send out a call to the others. Then they come one by one and grab a peanut and fly off. One or two of them will even try to get two in their beak at once but I haven’t seen them succeed at that yet. My dog Lacy enjoys laying by the window on her bed and watching the show. Enjoy your blog !

  6. Not many birds around here with this bitter cold and now a big snowstorm. And I do have a bird feeder up all winter. Sometimes in the afternoon, particularly if it’s sunny, we’ll get a bunch of sparrows and juncos at the feeder. Robins won’t appear around here for at least another month.

  7. That bluejay photo is breathtaking. What gorgeous colors.
    We had a hoopoe (huppe in French) hopping around our yard. I was able to get quite close (but still too far for my little camera). It had the most beautiful spotted feathers and elaborate crest.
    I particularly enjoy your nature posts.

  8. The feathers on the blue jay are beautiful. I remember my mother telling me blue jays were not particularly friendly and that they chase other birds, even dive bombing them as well.

    Have a lovely weekend! Carol

  9. As I filled the bird feeder this morning I heard the sweet sound of birdsong in the pines – it set my tone for the whole day! I look forward to this weekend being a tad bit warmer so I can perhaps spend a few more minutes outdoors enjoying the beauty of nature – it’s my favorite thing to do!

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