Autumn shows us many signs that she has arrived. Leaves of crimson and orange begin to carpet the manicured lawns, mature fruit hangs ready for the picking on trees, vee’s of geese overhead announcing their southern flight with their deep croaking honk-honks… and then there are the drunk robins weaving about in the back yard.
I have a crabapple tree and every autumn a big flock of robins come to carb up for the flight south. Some years weather conditions ferment the fruit and then we have an issue of wobbly, confused birds dotting the patio furniture and trying to land with limited success on imaginary perches. When they do find an actual perch, they sit askew, weaving back and forth like late night polka dancers at a beer tent. Even on the ground, they tip to one side, heads cocked at odd angles as they try to get their bearings.
And while they are intoxicated the robins drink copious amounts of water. I have three bird bathes in my yard, one on the ground and two pedestal, but they all need to be filled at least once a day while the ‘festivities’ are in town.
Maybe it is a ‘harvest party’ of sorts. Extended families gathering together to celebrate and catch up on what has happened in the past year…like a family reunion. They do seem very similar, don’t they? Individuals weaving about, intoxicated and confused, some lying about in inappropriate places, talking to no one when a brief moment of lucidity breeches the haze. (Are you now wondering about your family or mine?) There of course a few souls that try to maintain a modicum of propriety and they are easy to spot in the sea of berry-indulging, black and orange feathered kamikaze pilots.
When my Leonberger girls were home, Ammulett and her daughters Vision and Echo, I would try to keep the fallen crabapples and berries raked up, because Vision loved to eat them and I was always concerned with the poop factor, but after a while it just became to ‘fruitless’. Autumn was a time when I left the back door open so the girls could go in and out at will and so it became a logistical problem. I just tired of the whole procedure of raking each time before they came out. And I’m sure ‘fed-up’ was in there somewhere too.
It really wasn’t much of an issue. Ammulett didn’t like the fermented berries; Echo ate a few but never enough to matter. It was my little Vision who would pop into the house just OH SO HAPPY!!!! She would bounce up to the desk in the office, usually clunging into something she barely noticed, put her face close to mine and shout in the way an intoxicated person often does, ‘HI MOM!!! YOU SHOULD COME OUTSIDE AND PLAY!!!’
And I would tell her with a smile, ‘Well, you’ve been eating berries again, haven’t you?’
She would answer, ‘Yes! Yes! Very good berries!’ Then she would bang into a few things on her way back outside, only to repeat the whole process a moment later.
I suppose I am a horrid guardian but I just couldn’t stop laughing every time she came in the office and so I let her eat the berries. Vision has not one aggressive bone in her body, she just smiles most of the time and the berries only exaggerated her light hearted spirit. I am thankful she is not a ‘mean’ drunk.
Out in the yard, I do not see any mean drunk robins either, although I did have one come at me. Well, maybe he didn’t come at me so much as I got in the way. He flew right into my midsection before toppling to the ground. Then he quickly gathered himself up and flew at my knees. I probably could have stood there for a while for the entertainment value alone, but that would have been unkind. Instead, I moved to the side and he flopped past me to a perch up on the eaves.
Fall sometimes gives us the blues with summer being over and the next chapter not too far off. If you are in that category, maybe a crab tree is what your life needs. It will just sit quietly in your backyard until the day it bears the fruit of hours of laughter.