Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell

Snowbirds fly home to clean northern nests

The snowbirds are returning. As soon as spring officially arrived, the wimps who escape to warmer climates because they can't bear temperatures below 50 degrees begin to make the trip back home.

Last week we were easy to spot. We were the ones wearing two jackets, a hood tied under our chins, and boots. There's nothing like returning home to freezing rain after 80-degree weather to remind you why you decided to join the snowbird crowd. That's also enough incentive to make you vow to stay until April 1 next year. Or even May 1.

But here I am back at Home Sweet Home, with gloves on, unpacking the 12 boxes shipped from Hawaii, and wondering why I didn't pitch or give away a lot of the contents there, instead of paying postage and then getting rid of them on this end.

This year I intend to turn spring cleaning into spring clearance for a clutter-free environment. Suddenly, I seem to be overcome by my own possessions, from collectibles to clothing.

It has occurred to me that perhaps it isn't that the three-bedroom, two-bath house is too small for one person, a cat, and a dog. It just could be that the one person has that old S-and-S illness that plagues people as they get older. That's Shopping and Saving. After saving a closet full of smaller-size clothing, now that I can get into them, the '80s fashions just don't have it. Out they go.

Guarding the food intake and exercising aren't as easy to stick to at home. There is something about your own kitchen that makes you think about breaded pork chops and apple pie. I went to the new gym in Adrian to sign up, only to learn that it's $350 a year, which I find pricey, and that doesn't include a trainer. I need a trainer to direct the workout and to tell me that I can do the 90-pound leg press five more times. Walking should get better as the weather breaks.

I have told Digby that we will walk morning and night, at least three miles each time. He needs the exercise as much as I do. He broadened out considerably in the kennel, but I am sure he will slim down running in our two-acre yard.

It's amazing how animals can return to routine in no time. It's as if I never left them. It was difficult to take Sullivan from Jim Howe, who had kept him all winter. Jim had tears in his eyes when he brought the black cat home. They obviously had enjoyed an exceptional bond, for which I am thankful. I hope Jim will acquire a cat. Goodness knows, there are plenty of them that need a good home like his.

But, now we are back into our morning routine, with Sullivan moving down the stairs slowly as he lies full length and stretches, one step at a time, until we finally reach the living room, where Digby is waiting to greet us with an upheld paw. That's how the day begins in our sweet friendship circle. As often as Sullivan shows his dislike for Digby by slapping him in the face at every opportunity, I do believe he was glad to see him. His new trick is to let me know with loud meows that Digby is at the door to come in.

They, of course, were the main delights of returning home. Paying about one-third of the price for groceries in Hawaii is another major plus of being back in the Midwest, but the absence of a large selection of fresh fish in the supermarket is disappointing.

This morning, the birds that have returned are in concert in the trees. Soon the maples, the locust, the cottonwoods, and the old black walnut and hickory trees will be budding with the promise of a fresh growth of leaves to hide the birds' nests.

For those who prefer a motel, 20 bird houses have already been hung for their habitat and my enjoyment. As we say at Posey Lake, the early birds get the best location.

Mary Alice Powell is a former Blade food editor.

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