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To Know One Robin

2013 February 21
by Ann L. Carter

birds feeding









The wind is blowing and the snow is flying.   And the birds are here, their small bodies circling the area where I feed them.  They are waiting.  I sweep the snow away and throw out the seed, then watch them come.   They are my faithful friends and I want to be faithful to them.  They know where I feed them—the seldom used dog pen outside the back door, where the cats don’t go.   What amazes me is how, each morning, the sight of them outside my sun room window brings the same thrill as the day before.  Having something like this seems essential for the soul.  For one person, it might be the dusk, bringing in the night.  For another, the blooming geranium on the window sill.  For my mother, it was a robin.   I can’t name all the types of birds that I watch each day,  but I notice the delicate gray feathers on this tufted titmice, the lovely pale breast of that female cardinal,  the sweet shyness of this junco.   No bird is exactly alike, as no snowflake is identical.

Apples in a Pot

I met a woman

who had brain tumors

and after doctors

removed them

she couldn’t focus enough

to read.


Since then

every morning

she paints the sunrise.


“Do they all look different?”

I asked her.

“To me they do,”

she said

though admitted that when she

hung them in a gallery

people wondered,

“Why so many pictures of

the same thing?”


My mother tames robins

calling them to her porch

feeding them what’s left

of her breakfast toast.


She had a special one in June

and mentioned him each day.

“How do you know it’s the same one?”

I asked.

“I just know,”

she said.


Before her 96th birthday

I asked her what she wanted.

“I don’t need anything,”

she replied.

“And, besides, I have a robin.”


Today I am peeling apples

picked from a tree

belonging to a friend’s mother.


Each one is different

in shape

in size

in the placement of

the worm holes.


They are going in a pot of water

to be boiled,

sugar and cinnamon added

to make applesauce.


I will share some with my mother.

I would like to share some with the woman

who does sunrises.


Maybe I will buy one of her paintings

and when I see it

framed on my wall

I will think about


and robins

and apples in a pot.


September 9, 2010


My mother passed away January 27 at the age of 98.  I can’t share my homemade applesauce with her anymore, but I can feed the birds.  And I can continue to find their presence, each bird unique unto itself, just as wonderful as the day before.


robin and leaves in snow















4 Responses Post a comment
  1. Jill permalink
    February 21, 2013

    Love u, Ann. This is beautiful.

  2. February 22, 2013

    So beautiful, Ann. Your mother left you such lovely memories and such a shining soul. Blessings. xo

  3. Terry Wiechman permalink
    February 22, 2013

    So many lucky birds and animals have found their way to your charming country home and to your heart. So many lucky people too. You have the same gift of warm hospitality and caring that your mother had. I don’t think there were any strangers in her life…..Thanks for sharing this lovely post.

  4. February 25, 2013

    Heart full and overflowing, relationship strong and dear, the birds will always be there to remind. They visit me too.

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