The old guy has always admired people who ride motorcycles. He has never been on one in his life and would be foolish to consider any such thing now. His brittle bones would never be able to handle even the shortest of rides, let alone any type of accident. Insider always smiles when he sees a leather-clad man riding his bike with a leather-clad woman behind him. There the woman is with her arms wrapped around the man, who seems to be thinking life does not get any better. When Insider was young, that was his idea of a good date, but it was not on a motorcycle on a major road, just a trusty old bike in his neighborhood with a banana seat big enough for him and his first girlfriend, who went by Norma.
This week Insider realized that this year is the first year ever that he has not had to set out traps for the few field mice who take up residence in the kitchen, usually right after the great winter freeze. The reason for their absence came to Insider’s attention one night last week as he lay in bed reading a Nero Wolfe mystery. Ever so slowly, the sound of a hoot owl outside of his bedroom window made its presence known. Insider had been adopted, and with an owl in residence who needs to worry about mice.
They never left. All of Insider’s feathered friends of summer actually hang around all year as he noted during the recent snowfall. As soon as the snow covered the ground, the old guy dipped into the birdseed bin and filled the feeder twice a day for four straight days. The snow was long gone by then, but first came the sparrows and finches joining their winter companions, the snowbirds. On day two, Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal arrived followed by a family of bluejays. Also showing up was the solitary and very independent Jaybird who left two years ago after Insider cleared some brush at the rear of his backyard. On day three, a flock of about two dozen robins swooped in and stayed just long enough to clear the berries from every bush on the property. Also on that day, during the fluttering and feeding, the old guy’s three turtle doves popped up and came trucking across the snow to see what was going on. By this time, Insider was wondering whether any birds ever flew south for the winter or was that just something humans did. The snow faded quickly, as it always does around here, the birdseed bin needs replenishing and most of the birds have gone back to doing what they were doing before the snow, but many still stop back occasionally to check on the old guy.
“Growing old is like being increasingly penalized for a crime you have not committed.” — Anthony Powell