The season of the red-breasted robin calls our curiosity to the dining room window with a crash against the glass.

The bird’s instinct to protect his territory causes such bizarre behavior. He thinks his reflection is his foe. And his show’s running on two weeks now.

Mitty and Cuddles sit captivated before the window with whiskers upward, tail curling at the tip. Their carnivorous instinct sees a bird under their paw.

Poor kitties. At the sound of a hit, they run to the window and watch as long as the bird persists.

For several previous springtides, cardinal males dominated the upper branches of the same white pine. Meaning, for weeks the cardinal fought his reflection in the bedroom window upstairs. Now, the male robin claims the lower branches for his family’s nest.

Mitty’s patience astounds me, watching the robin without a blink. Cuddles is the first to capitulate and take a long nap. It’s less effort to dream about catching a bird.

I’m with Cuddles in one respect: the robin show is old.

I’d rather be outside weeding, planting, pruning, and spraying fruit trees. Tracing bird calls and songs to bluebird boxes and fen.

Burning piles of yard waste to tidy up the back forty. Planting another magnolia tree to accompany my Mother’s Day magnolia from last year.

And yes, the gratification of green garlic stems poking through oak leaves contrasts with woodpecker and carpenter bee damage done to the pavilion’s soffit.

There’s always something to do, and I’m glad of it.

For I remember the unsettled years of 1970 to 1975. Mel and I wandered with our two babies to rentals in Bay City, Rosebush, Clawson, Westland, and Warren before we purchased our first home in Berkley.

Never did I think of pulling one weed, planting a flower, or harvesting a basket full of homegrown asparagus until we moved into our little bungalow on Cummings Street.

There, our little backyard called my name. Changed my life.

That’s where I met Burt on the south side of our fence, Bud on the opposite, and their impeccable landscapes. Burt spent one summer tapping white bricks into a meticulous border along his prolific rose garden.

Tap, tap, tap, while my girls played in the sandbox, swung on the swing, and swam in the swimming pool.

Inspired by Burt’s roses and Bud’s vegetables, I mail-ordered one bare-root Tropicana hybrid tea and asparagus crowns from Jackson & Perkins. While waiting for their arrival, per directions on the morning glory seed package, I ran a serrated knife across the seeds and soaked them twenty-four hours before planting.

My goodness! What fertile earth! Those blue morning glories draped the fence we shared with Bud.

“Berkley was once a bog,” he said one day over the fence. “We can grow anything.”

Dear Reader, I remember the asparagus ferns taller than Burt’s fence, the tangy scent of my Tropicana rose, the slips my neighbors took home to propagate under a quart canning jar.

I remember their instinct to grow.

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