Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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A Drunkenness of Birds

Yesterday there were no robins. Today, right on cue—the first day of spring—they're everywhere.

The birds are back, and busily pairing off. Last week I heard the first mourning dove. Today I saw two of them, back in the mulberry tree where they always nest—if one can grace with the name “nest” a few twigs tossed together into the fork of a branch. Actually, there were three doves in the tree, but I'm afraid the third is going to have to look elsewhere. Reputation aside—and they really do lay up to 6 clutches a year—doves are monogamous.

The robins are pairing off too. So are the sparrows and the newly-returned starlings. The branches of the City of Trees are filled with flirtations and love-chases. Mating: the real March Madness.

I heard the robins before I saw them. “What a fuss,” I thought. The crab tree, still hung with last year's shriveled fruit, was full of robins. Red apples, red breasts.


Robins are not flocking birds, and spring is a competitive season. But there they all were: a tree-full of redbreasts. Well, it's that time of year.

Winter's repeated freezes and thaws ferment the sugars in the crab-apples. The reason why the birds are raising such a ruckus is because they're drunk, literally. I've actually seen robins laying on their backs on the roof, passed out.

Good old Springtime: sing, get drunk, and mate.

So, in our people's immemorial tradition, we make like the birds. I predict a whole new crop of pagan babies, round about, oh, say Yule or so.

They call it the Rites of Spring.


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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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