Christmas for the Birds

Now that we’re all dug out from our record snowfall, and I can hear the big machines clearing the piles they leave in the middle of the roads downtown, now that the house has fallen silent and the boy is gone with family to Texas, now that the tree is stripped of its ornaments and they’re all packed into their boxes, it’s time for the birds to celebrate.

I could load the tree in the back of the truck and bring it down to the city’s recycling area (well, I could if the back of the truck weren’t completely full of snow), but instead I think I’ll drag this bouffant Scotch Pine out into the backyard and lay it down for the birds to take cover in.

Then I’ll rummage through the cupboards to make a tray of tasty things for birds to eat–pop some popcorn and break up some dried apples slices and slivered almonds that’ve been in the cupboard for too long.  Maybe slice a few of these aging clementines as well.

It’s gotta be hard to be a little bird in a big snow.  All the tasty seeds are covered up, and the wind gets under those little feathers and makes it seriously unpleasant to stick around.  So, it seems like a good day to do something nice for them–all those chickadees, especially, toughing out the winter with us.

I don’t have a popcorn popper (I avoid single-purpose appliances if I can for the room they claim), but I do have a cast iron Dutch oven, and that works really well for popping on the stovetop.  I just put in the fat and corn, put on the lid, and put on my oven mits to give the pot a shake.

Feeding the popcorn to the birds is also a good way to use up stale corn that may not pop as well–I can’t eat the stuff myself, but I do like to keep a little around for the guys on family movie nights.  Still, there always tends to be a jar of the stuff that sits around for way too long, and it’s nice to be able to clear it out and give the birds a treat.

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I did manage to get the tray of goodies out for the birds–managed even to get the thing out through knee-deep snow without spilling any.  Because the snow’s so deep, the dog can’t easily raid the tray for the popcorn–though she can certainly smell that its there.

Now the real adventure will be digging the ladder out of a drift and setting it up to attempt retrieval and re-fill of the bird feeder from the redbud tree.

At least if I fall, I’ll be falling into a cushion of two or three feet of snow!

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