So our corner of the Bomb Cyclone came in right on schedule. It was sort of a fly-by, like we got the bright dusty tail of the comet that slammed into the heartland. The low temperature predicted by our magic boxes a week ago was off by a degree—a balmy fifteen. Thursday the app helpfully provided a cloud icon with a snowflake under it. Friday morning there were sharp little diamonds coming out of the cloud, representing ice. Which then, according to the site, would give way to a flurry of ping pong balls.

I don’t know what the ping pong balls are, but it doesn’t sound that bad.

Anyway, as previously discussed, I have very little in the way of survival skills, other than to attach myself to a useful person and be sufficiently entertaining as to be allowed to hang around. Really, all my weather skills are bird skills.

So I went to bed Wednesday night with an extension cord out to the bird bath defroster and a light bulb rigged up on the hummingbird feeder and hoped for the best. I should have anticipated the high winds—something has to bring in all that cold in a hurry—but there hadn’t been a wind icon on my app. So I lay awake much of the night listening to somebody hurling things at the house. I have always thought of houses as being solid. Not something that should be pushed around by a gang of air. But things was banging, things was flapping. With every gust I’d think: what in the world is on this house that bangs and flaps? I couldn’t come up with anything. Then I realized maybe something that used to be nicely affixed to the house had now popped loose and was fixin’ to head for the hinterlands. It wasn’t a restful thought. After failing to come up with anything I should be checking on that instant—at least anything I felt qualified to do something about—I slept fitfully, listening to the snattering of sleet at the windows, and hoped for the best.

I expected to wake up and find the kitchen dimly lit by the orange power-failure lights on the ovens, and hummingbird popsicles scattered on the patio with their little feets up, but it was a dang Christmas miracle: lights on, coffee brewing, and a trio of hummingbirds hoovering nectar, too whacked out by the cold to fight each other over it. The bird bath was mostly thawed and hopping with juncos.

Some of you might be wondering about our hummingbirds. We have them all year long, and not because we keep feeding them when we shouldn’t. Their range has been getting northier for decades. When all their other hummingbird buddies migrate to Mexico for the winter, our Anna’s hummingbirds stay put. Just kidding. Hummingbirds don’t have buddies. They have rivals, and they’re bitter about it.

Anyway, when it’s cold, they go in for a nectar nightcap and then buzz off to somewhere they can sleep in a state of torpor, which is a mini-hibernation. Their heart rate plummets, their temperature goes way down. Basically, they’re dead, almost, with just the pilot light on. But when they wake up like the irascible little bears they are, they’re immediately off to find that nectar and rev up for the day. Which is why those of us who decide to feed the little assholes all winter have to keep it up. They’re counting on at least that first morning jolt of jet fuel.

We don’t get many days enough below freezing to solidify sugar water. When we do, I’ve taken in the feeder at night and set the alarm to hang it out again just before dawn. I don’t like to do that. What is the point of being a retired mailman if you have to set a pre-dawn alarm? So now I have a nice setup with a clamp work light aimed at the feeder. And Thursday evening I was pleased to see a fat female taking advantage of it as the last light leaked from the western horizon. Sleep tight, Sugarpants, I said.

She was still there an hour later, blinking slowly, snapped onto the port closest to the light bulb.

I went to bed at eleven pm. She was still there. I think she spent the whole holy night there, haloed. What a little buttonhead. Schlafe, mein Liebster, genieße der Ruh. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Please enjoy my little video, serendipitously shot while an appropriate carol was on the radio. Nothing much happens, but nobody dies at the end.