The other day my mom and I sat on the deck of Cottage #21 (her favorite cottage) soaking up the February sunlight, which was noticeably warmer and richer than it was a month ago. We watched a dozen red-breasted robins hopping along staghorn sumac branches, eating the few velvety red berries that remain.
Robins do migrate (their Latin name Turdus migratorius is a sure giveaway!), but our resident experts, (Charlie's parents) inform us that there are always a few spotted in the Christmas Bird Count. These might be hardy local birds, or they could be Quebequois birds, enjoying the winter in comparatively balmy coastal Maine. Soon the ground will thaw and the robins will feast on juicy earthworms flooded out of their muddy holes. The robins give us hope that spring is on the way.
Soon the Red Winged Blackbirds will be back, calling out their "okaree" over the marshes, and after them the Phoebes with their bobbing tails. Who will arrive next? Swallows? Guests?
We have all been preparing for spring lately. There are countless supplies to order from bags for our trusty 50-year-old Electrolux vacuums, to details like votive candles for 20 mantelpieces, to essentials like smoke alarm batteries. C and T, our year-round staff, have been gathering supplies to start spring cleaning the cottages. Every spring for the last 50 years, staff have started spring cleaning on March 1. The cottages aren't winterized, so we aren't able to turn on the water until mid-April when the pipes are no longer vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Our hard-working staff lugs gallon jugs of water and heat it on the cook stove to clean with, bless them.
Charlie and I have much to learn this spring. My dad will show us how to boot up the various systems (water, hot water heaters, septic, etc.) for a new season. We'll also be learning how to keep up with our nearly one-year-old baby boy who will soon be bipedal. Never a dull moment around here!
Reservations are filling in, but the pandemic has shown us how quickly a full calendar can empty. The occupancy calendar looked about the same last February. The vaccine gives us some reason for optimism, but there's really no telling what this season will bring. For now, all we can do is live in the moment, enjoy the gaining sunlight, and watch the robins enjoying their meal.