What does it take to frame a day? To establish a certain tone or mood, affecting all that follows, if only in a minor way?
For me, it can be the simple glory of a shaft of golden sunlight pouring through the sycamores. The ringing hoot of a distant barred owl. Milkweed’s sweet scent carried on a July breeze.
Sometimes this setting-up occurs in a moment—within the fleeting space of an event so ephemeral and otherwise insignificant, it could almost be mistaken for a leftover fragment of dream. Something imagined, seen or experienced only in the interior world of the mind’s eye.
When determining which side of the fantasy-reality fence to place such a transitory moment, it often helps considerably to have a photograph. Unless you believe in psychokinetic photography, a photo in hand means you can trust your memory: you saw what you thought you saw; what you remember happening did happen.
A few minutes ago I was sitting on my deck-side bench, taking a bit of sun and nursing a post-noon cup of coffee. The river chuckled along a few yards away—still muddy from Saturday’s rain, though now back to nearly normal pool.
Something fluttered nearby.
When I looked, I saw a female cardinal sitting less than a yard away. The bird was perched on a limestone block left over from a small project yesterday. So close I could have reached out and touched her.
She seemed unafraid, and gave me a quick, quizzical eye. Then, as if to say Hey, how do you like my hairdo? the cardinal raised her crest. I couldn’t help but grin at her punk rocker look.
Was this a feathered chimera or a corporeal cardinal? A spirit entity or real gal redbird trying to charm me where I sat?
Without moving anything except a fingertip, I pressed the shutter on the camera in my lap, which happened to be pointed in the right direction; auto-focus and auto-exposure, along with pure luck, did the rest. The lens was cranked out to wide-angle, so I had to spin and crop the image.
The bird remained a moment more…just long enough to smooth everything back in place. Then she looked around, glanced up at me again, and flew away. I felt the air moved by her wings on my wrist.
Say what you will, blame it on male ego, but I think that little redbird was flirting with me. If so, I'm flattered. A cute coquette always trumps caffeine for making a guy's day!