Each fall and spring
here on Sulfur Creek we see the flocks of robins flying through like
bus tourists. In the fall, they're heading down to Mexico for the warm
weather and each spring they head back north away from the heat. They'll
stay around for a week or two, roosting in the cedar breaks. How long
they stay depends on the weather and the supply of food or drink. Supply
of drink? the lake hasn't dried out in years you say.
Well, the drink
I'm thinking about isn't exactly liquid. The blue berried juniper that
we all call the cedar tree puts on a dark blue berry in the summer that
is covered with a pale blue dust. This dust is a form of yeast I've
been told. In fact, several years ago I read an article in one of those
"back to the basics" magazines about using juniper berries
to make bread. The writer said the bread would rise pretty well but
the taste of took some getting used to. It tasted a little like gin.
All those expensive English gin bottles have pictures of juniper berries
on the labels because they use the berries to flavor the stuff.
Around here we
don't make much gin but if you wanted to there are sure enough juniper
berries. In fact, that's one of the reasons robins stop over here in
Central Texas. They just love those berries. Some years, if the weather
is just right, the yeast on the berries gets inside the berry and suddenly
we have naturally fermented gin. Those birds love it.
several years ago, I was headed down Hwy. 71 just west of the Y when
I saw a fat robin on the road. The bird had its wings outstretched and
dragging the ground. It looked as if the bird was staggering. As my
car got closer, it attempted to fly. All it accomplished was to fall
over. I stopped the car and got out to investigate. (This was several
years ago, before that road became like the Indianapolis 500.) That
robin was drunk, staggering, darn near dead drunk. To keep it from getting
itself killed, I gently herded the bird off to the shoulder of the highway.
In the cedar trees along the side of the road and on the ground beneath
them were several more birds. Glassy eyed and sleepy, they fluffed up
and ignored me. Now I'm sure some of you won't believe this tale at
all. Some of you are sure that all alcohol is man made, but I tell you
those birds were drunk off those cedar berries.
Cedar trees may
be popular with birds and fence post cutters, but I come close to hating
the darn trees here along Sulfur Creek, but that's another story.
Copyright 1986, 1996 by Sulfur Creek Enterprises, Austin, Texas