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January 23, 2006
"And where have you been?" a chickadee at the feeder asked me this morning, turning her head so she could fix me with a stern a gaze as a chickadee can summon. She had been waiting in a bush near the empty feeder for me to come out and throw a cup of sunflower hearts into it.

"I'm sorry. We were away for the weekend."

"It's winter, you know."

I did know. I was standing barefoot on cold, wet concrete and couldn't feel my toes. I usually go barefoot for short trips outside in snow or rain, to avoid tracking in a lot of water.

"Well, now, there's not much snow left. I think there are still some seeds around. Berries, maybe. There were some holly berries out front. Did you look around the garden?"

"I can't stand holly berries."

"Well, you're a wild bird. You eat seeds and berries."

"Not if I can get sunflower hearts."

"Well, anyway. Bon appetit."

Me, I was having oatmeal. My New Year's resolution was to see more movies and to have oatmeal for breakfast every morning. I view these promises as goals, not as laws, so I haven't had oatmeal every single morning so far in 2006. But I've eaten a lot more oatmeal in these three weeks than I did in all of 2005.

The birds are ready for me each morning -- they scatter when I approach the feeder, but they're all over it by the time I get inside and look out the window. And the cats are ready for me, too, pacing to and fro in front of their place mats while I open a can of food for them to share. And I am ready: the oatmeal is bubbling away on the stove, enough for Q and me to share, and the raisins are ready to go in at the very last minute.

The most important meal of the day, my mother and everyone else's mother used to say. Sometimes I used to make apple crisp for breakfast on the first day of school when my kids were little: warm and sweet and delicious. And not much more complicated than tossing a cup of seed into a bird feeder.

Apple Crisp for Breakfast

Turn oven on to F. 350
Grease (Or spray with PAM) a 9" square baking pan
Peel, core and slice:
4 large or 5 medium apples
Blend until crumbly, with pastry blender in medium bowl or pulse in food processor (which we didn't have then):
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup oatmeal
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp cinnamon
Spread oatmeal mixture evenly over apples.
Sprinkle with:
2 tbsp water
Put in the oven. Get the kids up and get dressed yourself. Feed the cats and the dog, if you have one. Feed the birds if you do that. When everybody's dressed and the animals are fed and the apple crisp is brown and bubbling, serve it in cereal bowls, with or without cream.

Serves 4-6.
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