cardinal

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.

At last, the ground is white again. The cardinal sheltering in the lilac bush flings the snow from her feathers with a flick of her wings.