Stuck in the thick of it, those plunging temperatures, bitter winds, ice-slicked roads and sidewalks, it can feel like this will be our world from here on out, nothing for it but gray, gloomy skies and the isolation of the polar darkness we experienced just a short week or so ago.

And then, there’s a day like today! Bright-lit & mild, calm and peaceful, sunshine just oozing through the late December air. Our car’s temperature gauge delivered us the magnificent news: fifty-six glorious degrees! Not that we needed a digital device to tell us what a wonderful day it was for our walk, puppy straining at his leash, a broad canine smile and merry eyes that would melt any human’s heart.

Oh, there will be more nasty winter weather to come, no doubt. This is Iowa, after all. We’re hale, stout, hardy creatures, those of us who’ve lived here our whole lives. We’re used to it. We can handle the tough stuff, even with three to four months of winter spread out before us. No matter. It won’t last forever, despite the doubt that sometimes creeps in. Spring, that now-elusive delight, is something we ought not to tempt ourselves with just yet. It, after all, isn’t even the first of January yet! But, still, we can tuck it away, that certain knowledge that warm, sunny, balmy weather will inhabit our days before too (terribly) long.

Today, just for today, I can deal with that.

Robins seem to enjoy sitting in our diminutive (but growing) locust tree in the backyard. A few years ago, I hung a jewel-toned metal remnant from a battered whirligig – one of those decorative spinning devices that was no match for a strong wind storm a while back – on one of the lower branches, close to the one where the robins like to perch. It’s a pretty addition to our lovely tree and I always hate to part with anything, no matter how small or insignificant, that makes me smile. There is a robin’s nest under the deck, just shy of twenty paces from our tree, and I am left to speculate that Mama Robin see this little bejeweled spot as her sanctuary, her respite from the demands of robin motherhood.

The bright green, almost fluorescent young leaves look so fresh and new, like everything come spring. Surely they must entice my red-breasted friends with the same capacity for joy as whenever I catch a glimpse of our tree looking out our sunroom window.

We planted the locust the first year we lived here; however, for a number of reasons we’ve had to relocate the tree twice since that initial planting. To say that it hasn’t exactly thrived would be an understatement. We jokingly refer to it as our Charlie Brown tree. It has been, however, in its current location now for about seven years and is finally, finally exhibiting new growth, new shoots and sprouts that make my heart happy each spring as it continues to display more form, more fullness, a more pleasing shape.

Oh, and that green! Is it any wonder the robins love it so?