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Spring, what a fickle time of year!  We wake to robin song, a bit irritated that they always burst into tune just before the alarm goes off, but happy to hear it still.  The first hints of green unfurl tiny fists beneath leaden skies.  The geese are sounding their party horns and there’s a pair of mallards waddling down the drive.  We start to get the hint, and after a few bright, almost-balmy days, we get around to setting out the patio chairs just in time for snow.

For me, it’s this very season that sets my black thumb to throbbing.  Oh, the things I could plant!  I can’t help myself and pick up a bag of peony bulbs, pining for that heavenly aroma and those perfectly pink, voluminous blooms.  And then I remember that I have to plow the soil somehow, which is overgrown with all the dead of last year’s mistakes.  And because of the multitude of deer that left tooth marks on my seed feeder and ate my newly sprouting giant sunflowers before they had a chance at becoming more than miniature, I’ll have to put up some kind of mesh or wire fencing.  Not to mention the fact that the ideal spot for gardening is half a mile from our spigot, leaving me lugging pails of water across the yard all day.

And so I end up slumped by the window, a mug of tea in hand as I watch Mother Nature’s relentless industry from the temperature-controlled comfort of my own abode.  And that’s when I spot her, a little tuft of soft gray, as still and sober as I, nestled in amongst new growth in the little diseased tree out my kitchen window.  I fumble for my binoculars, then for my camera, amazed that the little Junco has stayed still long enough for me to peer into her tiny, dark eye and wonder.  She starts to perk up after a bit, and lifts her head into the wind, suddenly alert as I snap a quick photo.  Was she napping?  Do Juncos nap?  Could it be that she was as weary at the prospects of labor as I?  Is the daunting business of nesting, laying and long hours of feeding helpless young causing her a moment of stillness, a long sigh in the face of spring?

I don’t know if I’ll get around to planting those peonies or not, but it’s moments like these that drive me back to my books.  What is life like for one little Junco?  What I can’t glean from Cornell Lab and Wild Birds Unlimited, I try to imagine.  If that little bird could have told me all her worries and woes, her vast hopes for a future generation, or given some insight into all the life-altering decisions she would have to make in the weeks to come, what a story that would be!  Such are the inspirations that feed my fantasy series, Fae of Fire and Stone, where I give voice to nature through the lives of human-like shape-shifters that can turn into bird, tree or newt at will.

And so the bag of bulbs sits neglected while I plunge into new research.  What can I say, I’m more dreamer than doer, which only deepens my regard for all the busy little denizens of a cruel and ever fickle setting–one that’s right outside my window.  I’ll get to planting soon.  Just as soon as I finish this next scene…

The Goodreads giveaway for CHAR, a stand-alone in the series, ends tomorrow at midnight.  Kate Wolford of Enchanted Conversation is also giving away two copies in a contest on her fairy tale website.  But if you miss either of these, don’t worry–the book will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers April 26th.  You can save it for those blustery days when you just can’t rise to robin song or take flight from your armchair, and find yourself longing to take refuge in your eReader instead.  Take the advice of a little bird, and give yourself a moment’s respite.


the little dark eyed junco out my window