cardinal

Male cardinals bathe side-by-side in the stream, then resume chasing. A jay perches in a dogwood bush shaking the water from his wings.

A female cardinal gleans seeds from a false buckwheat vine, dangling upside-down, fluttering in mid-air—as acrobatic as any chickadee.

Fog gives way to mid-morning haze. The neighbors’ rooster doesn’t so much crow as moan. I listen to cardinal song and imagine it’s February.

The hole in the dead elm is emitting puffs of dust: a flicker cleans house. Just beyond: scarlet tanager! Then the cardinal’s humdrum red.

Snowstorm. Two male cardinals meet on a white branch and stare at each other. A third red crest flashes in the woods: pileated woodpecker.

Very cold (-20C). A locust tree with ice in its joints creaks and bangs in the wind. Through a hat and two hoods I hear a cardinal singing.

A cold, gray morning. Up in the woods, a chickadee’s two-note song prompts a cardinal to join in. The sun’s hiding place begins to glow.