The first robin of Spring sits in the snow of the front porch roof.
He looks cold.
Pleased as I am to see him—the gods grant the omen—I’m also surprised. Being eaters of worms and insects, robins usually follow the thaw northwards. But it’s been a cold Winter here in Paganistan. Not only is the ground still frozen—in fact, the frost-depth is deeper than usual this year—but it’s still covered with snow.
Why the robin, then? Easy.
He’s here for the party.
Going upstairs one sunny morning in early Spring several years ago, I found myself thinking: What are those birds making such a ruckus about? Looking out the back window, I saw an amazing sight.
The branches of the crab apple trees on either side of the back gate were filled with robins, all squawking—not singing—at once. First off, this was odd because robins are not, in general, flocking birds.
Moreover, maybe a dozen more were actually rolling in the snow on the roof, a very un-birdlike behavior. As I watched, one staggered and fell over.
In fact, they were drunk.
Late Winter’s repeated freezing and thawing ferments the sugars in the hard little crab apples. Birds and animals all know this and seek it out: robins, deer, bears. Think of it: a drunk bear. Now there’s an encounter best avoided.
Back when I used to work as a waiter, my fellow servers would often gripe when they got a table of non-drinkers. This is understandable: a few cocktails and a bottle of wine can double a tab and up your tip percentage accordingly. Me, I never minded non-drinkers though, for this very good reason: people that don’t drink are much more likely to order dessert, and not just one for the table, either.
In Mormon Utah, where, for religious reasons, many people don’t drink alcohol, the per capita sugar consumption is higher than anywhere else in the country. The same is true of Hindu India and the Muslim Middle East. Everybody likes a buzz, and sugar is a powerful drug.
Well, it’s been a long, hard Winter. Things are unsure. Food is beginning to run out, and we’re not going to be seeing much from the garden in the near future. Meanwhile, we’re seeing the worst inflation in decades, gas prices are way up, and Putin’s war in Europe could just possibly spell the end of the world-order as we know it.