I’m glad I’ve relinquished responsibility for the timing of the appearance of daffodil blossoms.

In late December, the first green tips appeared. By early January, the leaves were in full view. And now with mere days before February begins, tight buds sit atop many of the daffodil stems.

Our present cold spell will perhaps slow the opening, but regardless of the flowers’ timetable, I can do nothing to alter it. I might as well sit back and enjoy the show. If March is without daffodils, perhaps some other blooms will put on an early display to fill the void. Given the warm winters we’ve had lately, we could have peonies and sweet peas in early April instead of mid-May.

Though I’m not fond of cold weather, this current return to more typical winter temperatures is not unwelcome. A fire on the hearth, a bowl of steaming vegetable beef soup, a buttery slice of cornbread — all are sufficient compensation for a few frigid days. My afternoon treat this week has been a cup of hot chocolate with two or three marshmallows floating on top, a reward for a brisk walk or an hour of swimming laps in the Claire Donahue pool.

Winter offers a golden opportunity to read or write. When darkness descends so early, there is ample time to curl up with a good book. I’m grateful the public library keeps me well supplied with reading material. We here in Loudon County have many blessings!

The cats, Olivia and Kaycee, have spent much time indoors recently. They curl in a chair in a sunny spot and sleep the hours away. I marvel that cats can sleep so much, and it’s not a cold weather phenomenon for them. In the summer they sleep in a deck chair or under a shrub on in a garden row. Cats are said to be nocturnal, but Dick and I suspect Olivia and Kaycee sleep all night as well as most of the day.

Our dog Ember is also fond of sleeping, but while she’s awake she runs off an enormous amount of energy. When Dick and I go outdoors to play with her, she races in large circles around the yard or through the fields and then back to where we’re standing.

If we toss a toy for her to retrieve, she runs past the item, veers right or left and makes another pass during which she scoops up the toy in her mouth and dashes past whoever threw it to her. Her game is to make us retrieve the toy when she drops it.

Needless to say, Dick and I get plenty of exercise when we play with Ember — a good excuse for another cup of hot chocolate.

Cold weather brings more and more birds to the feeders. I had noticed these past few months we were seeing fewer cardinals than we usually see. Then it occurred to me that the flat feeding station we used for many years had gotten in bad shape, and we discarded it last spring.

Because cardinals prefer to eat from a flat surface, they seemed to have gone elsewhere for their sunflower seed. Dick had made the earlier feeder for me, so he set to work and created a new one — a flat disk hanging from a metal rod that was hooked on an s-curve hung from a limb.

Within a day or two, pairs of cardinals were landing on the platform, selecting a seed and flying away. Cardinals perched in the maple trees and flew around the yard, their bright red feathers a cheery note against the dark tree limbs and the gray sky. Dick and I were delighted with their return.

The usual other birds are also visiting the feeders and the bath, which we defrost with warm water once or twice a day. Juncos, wrens, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, assorted finches and sparrows and downy and red-bellied woodpeckers flit around our yard, while towhees and mourning doves scratch in the loose leaves and dirt.

We’ve had an unusual visitor on our arid hilltop. Six or seven red-winged blackbirds have become regulars at the feeders, and yesterday morning Dick and I saw close to two dozen. My bird book says red-winged blackbirds prefer marshy areas, but maybe these renegades didn’t read the same book.

It’s not just daffodils that seem to be breaking the rules.

Connie Green grew up in Oak Ridge and is a poet, novelist and writing instructor. To contact her, visit her website at www.conniejordangreen.com.