My first robin; memories and hope

March 24, 2010

I saw my first robin of spring. A big, dark russet colored specimen standing in the sun, long enough to let me admire him. And appropriately he showed himself on the first full day of spring.

First robin of spring. Photo credit: Jane Rickard, File photo

Spotting my first robin of the season is a rite of spring for me. It started when I was a child although I can’t say how or when. My mom may have pointed one out to me when I was young. Or perhaps I was simply captivated on my own. But for decades I have noted this event with a moment of reflection. Not merely passing by but stopping to acknowledge its significance. Waiting and watching until he leaves.

Crocus and snowdrops cheer us when we see them first emerge. Sometimes surrounded by snow they are all the more appreciated and amazing. But March in Chicago is fickle. Snow will cover the flowers and when melted has flattened them. And soon they give way to other beautiful bulbs in spring’s ephemeral style.

But once the robin is here we know we are in spring mode. He or she is not leaving or getting intimidated by a little snow and cold. There are nests to build, worms to find, and families to raise. The robin is our companion through the season now, not just the fleeting beauty so badly need in early spring.

I have other childhood memories tied in with nature. Picking violets behind the fence for Mom. Growing my own annual garden with Dad. Touching roly poly bugs so they curl up. Trying to catch fireflies at night. But the robin has remained with me in to adulthood as a reminder of the excitement of youth when the weather first turns mild, but also as a symbol of the optimism and resilience of nature. Hope springs eternal.