On this last day of February, warm days and cool nights call us out to the garden. We have been pruning the results of last month’s hard freezes, tilling soil, and clearing paths as we ready for planting. A pair of cardinals watches us as carefully as we watch them. They may have already chosen a nest and we don’t want to threaten them into moving. In the tangle of barren branches their quick flashes of color make us run for a camera. Bold and bright red with his black mask, the male is darting from porch to tree. We see his mate less often, but sometimes glimpse them together. Non-migratory birds, most cardinals live within a mile of where they were born. They are song birds and the male uses its call to attract a mate, but unlike most northern songbirds, the female also sings. She will often sing from the nest, perhaps a call to her mate. Cardinal pairs have song phrases that they share. As we listen carefully, on these first sunny days of late winter, we hear the song. It sounds like ‘cheer, cheer, cheer’.
Gray days and gray thoughts feel so different according to where I am standing. If I wrap my shawl of worry around my shoulders and stay inside I may never see my red feathered friend or hear his song. Only as I go out, look up, and open my heart am I able to find the song and share it.
“Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” ~ Emily Dickinson