The chickadees are out of hiding after our recent cold snap here in the woods. It’s good to see them filling up on suet and seed in anticipation of the next cold front. They are polite little birds who wait their turns and cause no drama, from what I can see. An enormous woodpecker arrived to see what was on the menu yesterday, and the tiny birds with black caps took to the balsam a few yards away to wait until he’d had his fill.
I can’t say the same for the rotund gray squirrel who, at the moment, is trying to steal one of the balls of suet. I tap on the window to scare him away from the feeders, and he glares with small piggish eyes, sticks out his tiny pink tongue at me, and keeps working. Humans don’t have the market cornered when it comes to being greedy.
There are deer tracks around the raised garden box we filled with cracked corn, too. They are filling up with whatever they can find during their respite from sub-zero temps that make the snow squeak, the trees crack, and the ice on the lake rumble.
In other news, by the time this goes to print, Minnesotans will either be celebrating with “SKOL!” or uttering a different S word where the Vikings are concerned. I’m the fairest of fair weather Vikings fans. During the regular season, if they win, great. If they lose, I’m always glad I was doing something else on Sunday afternoons. I know a lot of super fans who paint their faces purple and gold and wear jerseys on game days even if they are just watching it on T.V. Actual humans who can recite statistics about the players on the field. I am not one of those people. I’m okay with that.
I hope they win today, though. It would be nice to see the home team play in our spanking new stadium. I hope it snows a great deal in the Twin Cities right before Super Bowl Sunday, too. I think the rest of the world needs to see how people in a state like Minnesota throw a party in February. The first things they’ll notice is that we have trouble zipper merging on the freeway because we are just too darn nice to budge in line. We say “Uff-da” and play “Duck-duck-gray duck”and eat a lot of hot dish and bars.
We are sensible people who bundle up and never travel without a winter survival kit and jumper cables. We learn to ski, skate, drive snowmobiles, and ice fish when we’re kids so that when our parents tell us to “go outside” we have something to do. As adults, we do a lot of hunkering down in the winter. In fact, we can hunker like nobody’s business. It’s in our D.N.A.
But sometimes, if we’re lucky, we get a January thaw. We peel off a couple of layers of clothing and re-fill the bird feeders. We check the propane tank level in the yard or haul in another armful of wood for the stove. We make wild rice soup and get out the Top the Tater for our potato chips.
And if we’re lucky, on a particular Sunday, even die-hard fair weather fans like me watch the Vikings play for a spot in the Super Bowl.
Because win or lose, it’s nice being a Minnesotan.