My first robin; memories and hope

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.

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Mary Pendergast

About Mary Pendergast

Mary grew up in the Chicago neighborhood of Edgebrook and in suburban Glenview. She attended the University of Dayton, concentrating in Interior Design. After a stint in retail Mary spent 24 years at a corporate law firm downtown. Upon discovering a passion for gardening she left the corporate world to pursue it. Mary received The Ornamental Plant Materials Certificate at The School of the Chicago Botanic Garden and got her Master Gardener certification there in 2003. Currently she works as a perennials staff member at a city garden center in season. In 2006 Mary started her own garden consulting and coaching business, How Does Your Garden Grow? ID, Ideas, and Advice for Do-It-Yourself Gardeners. (mvpgardens@yahoo.com). As an urban condo gardener she is always experimenting with what will grow or overwinter in containers. Mary is the Presentation Chair for The Manor Garden Club and stays active in her Ravenswood Manor community. She is also an eternal optimist. Helpful when being a gardener.

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