I had forgotten a little pile of twigs in the grass. They were trimmings from last year’s Jacob’s Ladder, perennial geranium and such. I meant to pick them up on my garden walkabout when I spotted a robin fiddling around them. Robins have a way of picking and choosing in the dirt for whatever it is they want, which is usually a worm for children back home in the nest. This robin held something in her beak, turned around and looked right at me, a grin of satisfaction upon her face, then flew away with one of the twigs, now successfully broken in two, off, no doubt, to build a new home somewhere near.
I was glad I left this little pile of pick up sticks for the robins to find and I found myself wondering how much harder it must be for birds to find nesting material around pristine suburban lawns.
I admire the robin for its house building skills and care for its young, all while cheerfully cheeping. Wherever there is a puddle, from the rain or just left over from watering the hydrangea, there one will be, flapping about, taking a bath as only a robin can do. I can always tell when a robin has been to one of the birdbaths by all the water sprayed hither and yon. They dip their heads in and wiggle about, pushing water all around their body and flapping their wings in absolute glee. A robin taking a bath always reminds me of doing the Hokey Pokey.
The robin is also a fierce protector of its young, flying out and beyond the borders of home if danger is detected, drawing intruders away. Deep in the yard, where the wild things are, I know there is a nest, but I can’t find it. Every time I’m back there, near the compost pile, a robin flits down to the grass, cheeps, and emphatically invites me to leave. She could be protecting the wrens employing squatters rights in the bluebird box, but I suspect she has a nest of her own nearby.
Among all this Robinhood activity here in the Cutoff Rorest, I thought about two passings this past week. Donna Summer, the talented queen of disco, and Maurice Sendak, the prolific children’s book author and illustrator. My mind wanders, as you know, dear reader. Who else would connect the common American robin to two such notables?
I first learned of Maurice Sendak in college in a children’s literature class. Would it surprise you to know that Kiddie Lit classes were my favorites? Sendak’s books are always so imaginative and touch upon issues that often make grownups uncomfortable, but that I always found captivating and entertaining. I guess I’m just not grown up enough. Sendak had and will continue to have an impact on children’s literature and his own personal story is compelling.
As I strolled around the garden, I thought of Donna Summer; her energy, talent, musicality, and fame. There is rarely a wedding we attend, and we attend many, where the last song played, whether by deejay or band, isn’t Last Dance. It was She Works Hard for the Money that danced through my head as I walked yesterday afternoon, watching Mrs. Robin working hard, singing away to beat the band.