The Cedar Waxwings visited us yesterday, December 1. Every year, I watch for them with their yellow-tipped tails to come and eat the berries from our front-yard bushes and the shriveled crab-apples from our tree. They flock in uncountable numbers, perching on the branches and swallowing the fruit whole. Our cat and I spied on them from the window in awe, though I suspect his thoughts were much different from mine. I caught them on film as I could, but no human image could capture the truth of their migratory preparations. I checked the weather report and my internal barometric sensors. Sure enough, snow is on its way.
It amazes me every year how these drab birds with their black masks know the season is changing. They are late this year as I have certainly seen them a month earlier. They wait and know when to prepare to leave regardless of the date on my calendar.
How do they know? How do they remember where to find our rich supply of fruit? Do they wait nearby for the internal signal? Do their heads ache the way mine does from an approaching storm? Or are their stomachs a flutter of festive anticipation?
They remind me of how to approach Christmas. As certain as I feel the barometric changes of the season, I anticipate the reason for it. I perch on the branches waiting for the sign to begin preparations. I gather and feast with a flock of others. I strengthen myself for any pending storms with nervous-excited eagerness. There are places to go and people to meet. I’m ready to fly.