Home at Mom and Dad’s house for the weekend, I am surrounded by familiar intimacies and fresh mysteries.

The vegetable gardens sit barren and waiting. Birds fly back and forth to the feeder outside the kitchen window, chasing each other away, pecking hastily at seeds, dashing into the nearby trees. It is a most serious dance.

Dad and I tinker with my car, testing air pressure, checking oil, touching up the scratches. Mom makes granola and butternut squash soup, and I help as we talk over family problems and joys.

In this place, history chants softly everywhere you turn. This is where I played in the forest of childhood: peering dazed out my window at the infinite blue sky, reading curled in the palm of the maple tree, swinging under the black walnut, tromping theatrically through the woods, collecting sleek chestnuts, building forts with my brother, sledding at dangerous speeds down the ice-slick driveway, crying crouched at the top of the grassy hill behind the red barn. It was here that one day I stepped out the door to discover myself a woman, walking the inscrutable road of adulthood.

Today, the mist around the house made a perfect set for a performance of Midsummer’s Night Dream. Then the sun broke through, streaking across the curving road in brilliant streams.

Strangely, a flock of red-breasted robins has abandoned instinct’s southerly calls and shown up in our cold, February yard. Under the holly tree they flutter on the ground, dozens of them. Will they survive tonight’s temperatures? What does this mean? Is it some sort of portent, some oracle?