A pair of cardinals for many years has nested not too far from my garage door. This year, for reasons I can’t explain, the female died. Many a day this past week have I spent weeping with the male as he called from shadowy places that lonesome song begging for answers, begging for her return. Soon he must take leave of her absence, move on from what he presently denies. And still I cry thinking about it.
Not until December did the male northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) find a new mate—or perhaps not until December did he find the strength to move on from his lamentations. I suspect the latter given the woeful dirge he sang for so many months, crying I shared each time I saw him pleading with that empty tree as though she might suddenly burst from its branches.
Whether morning, noon or night, I would stand in the garage and cry upon the altar of hope all that I had within me as he sang and wept and pleaded for one more second with his love. Yet I knew she would not return.
After more time than I thought possible, however, his weeping turned to wooing, a change in his singing that was all too evident. Not too long after I noticed the difference in his demeanor did I finally set eyes upon the woman vying for his affection.
She’s a splendid thing, a beautiful creature worthy of this man’s dedicated love.
And he does indeed shower her with love.
Shortly after I snapped that photo of him as he surveyed the birdseed I put out, a scene full of other birds coming and going, he dashed into the midst of the avian storm and grabbed a seed. She hunkered nearby in another bush.
He flitted to her position, cracked the shell and dropped it, then delicately fed her the nutritious heart of a sunflower seed. It was like a kiss. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry or shout in triumph.
His months of agony last year hurt me deeply. The sorrowful song he sang cut me like a blade put to flesh. What beautiful emotions these creatures have, and the more beautiful they become when they share them with us.
So seeing him tending to his new bride in this way gives me hope, lifts me up, tells me sorrow doesn’t have to last forever.