All winter long, no matter how cold, Mrs. Cardinal jumped around in a bush just outside our dining room windows, too often madly flying int the one closest to the bush, as if she were trying to get to our table. Who could blame her? The temps were inhospitable, no matter how thick her fashionable feather coat.
Finally, it got scary. She's such a beauty that the last thing we would have wanted would have been for her to muster up too much power and hurt herself. We loved her choice of our little bush, we hoped that maybe she'd spot a place for a spring nest, we were honored by her wanting inside, but we had no desire to pick up a ball of feathers from the frozen earth just outside my basement window. So we put a Lakota dream-catcher in the window, which seemed not only appropriate but useful.
And it was. My wife claims she hears the cardinals around yet, although the Missus doesn't crash into the window anymore, that dream-catcher having disturbed her nightmarish fantasies about whatever lined up on the other side of the glass.
Cardinals make marvelously distinguishing noises. You almost have to be a dog to pick up their high-octane chirp, and the husband's piercing, near-scream love song--I'm told birds sing for two reasons: to mate and mark territory--can be heard blocks away.
No matter, I love to hear that guy's keening and wouldn't mind at all if he set up camp right outside our window when the Missus finds a nesting space in that bush she's been hanging around since November.
They're not alone these days. Spring is finally stopping at the station here. Greens are emerging all over as of late. The maples start to look like the world's biggest grape vines, clumps of mahogany seeds as big as a child's fist sprouting from every last tendril. Annuals suddenly arise from last year's graveyards. And birds sing.
Really, spring's arrival has no sweeter song. This morning, as every morning for the last couple of weeks, when I walk outside, even the pre-dawn dark, they're at it, raising cane. I don't care of they're simply hormonally-driven capitalists looking for nothing more than sex and territory, why not think their song is praise? It is.
In my ears at least.
Besides, what's wrong with sex?
My wife says the Missus was outside yesterday, as was her husband (by the way, Cardinals mate for life, I'm told). She says she watched them. She said she hoped they'd come back again this afternoon. They're so beautiful.
I had a class, couldn't stay home, had to go back to a roomful of students who are likely also too struck by the peculiar delights of the year's first warm sun.
My wife is retired. I have one more year. When I went back to school after lunch, not having seen the cardinals, I told myself there was something wrong with me because something in my heart told me I would have much rather stayed home and watched cardinals.
And yet, the more I think about it, the more I wonder about our perception of the nature of wisdom. Was I wrong in wanting to stay home? Was I just plain lazy? Why did my heart stay here? No matter how hard I try to remind myself, it's still almost impossible, Calvinist that I am, to really and truly consider the lillies.
Or the cardinals.
No matter. This morning's thanks are for the cardinals and all the rest of tribes. And the royally emerald world of spring.