The lilac trembles from without and within: rain hammers the leaves while birds jockey for shelter under them—towhee, cardinal, wren.
The creek has shrunk to a black ribbon between white canyon walls. A cardinal fluttering up from a quick bath shakes loose a shower of snow.
A pair of cardinals chirp back and forth in the lilac. A small buck with antlers in velvet crashes out of the woods, chased by a larger doe.
In the mud bowl of the old robin’s nest that the wind blew out of the cedar tree, a fresh dusting of snow. The cardinal’s monotonous chant.
Early morning sounds like spring, with cardinals, titmice and song sparrows tuning up. A rabbit stands on its hind legs to reach lilac buds.
Cold and overcast. A grooming cardinal reaches under his wings, dining on lice. Juncos peck grit from the road to replenish their gizzards.
The caution of wild things. Male and female cardinal taking turns bathing in the stream. The chipmunk rising furtively to its hind legs.
A catbird taps at the dining room window—the same glass that taunts the female cardinal. A tiny shadow darts through the grass: meadow vole.
Rain has erased the last patches of snow. The lilac bush gives birth to a cardinal, a wren, four white-crowned sparrows and a chipmunk.
Sunrise. The bluebird warbles once, as if unsure whether it really will be that kind of day. The cardinal keeps singing his one good note.
The male cardinal lands on a top branch of the lilac and sits nearly motionless for ten minutes, an odd red triangle against the woods.
Wood thrush and cardinal song. A male hummingbird chases a silver-spotted skipper off the beebalm, then retreats to a dead branch to preen.
A little less cold, a little less clear as we inch toward the warm mud of April. The cardinal pays her morning visit to her glassy rival.
Intense cold, and a stillness so deep the trains can barely be heard. A cardinal flickers like a pilot light under the bridal wreath bush.
A cold, wet morning that must test the hunters’ mettle. Over the rain, the rattle of the window-tapping cardinal clashing with her nemesis.
Now that summer’s past, the cardinal has gone back to harassing her reflection. The frost-whitened myrtle bed. A barberry turned to flame.