I’m getting a kind of lesson plan together, something with poetry, aiming to be insightful and sensitive. Downstairs Leigh’s frustrated, trying to negotiate with the roofer who over-charged precisely when she’s feeling broke. No lie, there are at least three feet of snow on the ground, and so when I hear the robins I’m slow to react. Dozens of them in the bare trees. The birds are almost silent. When have we last seen robins in winter? Would you believe never? The sun or what passes for sun around here is visiting for a stretch, so I take off the screen and crank a window open, try to photograph orange breast against snow. They’re not skittish, don’t stir much when I head outside and scatter seed. But the flutter of wings as they roost is audible, like the whoosh of shaken fabric, or a racket stunned against a dusty rug. They poke at berries and ignore the seed, shudder and alight, knock clusters of snow from branches. Half a dozen rush the house then veer away; through binoculars they’re beautiful, heaving and composed. By lunch they’ve gone, but all afternoon I hear, over my shoulder, a promise of return.