Tuesday, July 14, 2009

FLIRTY REDBIRD?

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!

22 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

Beautiful piece of writing Scribe - what a delight that bird must have been. I saw a cardinal once in Texas last year - i was so excited - I have read about them and it was such a joy to see one. I hadn't realised that only the male was very red. However, this lady has that lovely crest and is in her way just as beautiful. I am sure she was having a bit of a flirt with you - and how fortuitous that your camera was so close to hand. Lovely post.

Jenn Jilks said...

Ah, nature! We're still fighting with bears around My Muskoka!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

This is not really a very good photo of a female cardinal; you really can't see the lovely soft colors, the muted shading, the subtleties. As much as I love the gaudy red male, I almost prefer the tonality of the female. There is such a quiet beauty.

I have some better female cardinal shots—in fact, I think I may have posted one or two—and one day I'll stick one up and give you a better view.

As you found out, both male and female have crests. I can see three or four redbirds in my yard at this very moment—a couple of males and, depending on whether that is one or two birds popping in and out from under the cedar, a female or two. They are really spectacular, but so common that I'm afraid we take them mostly for granted.

I hope you one day get to see many more, and up close. I have a feeder hanging from the soffit a few inches beyond the window at my desk. All day, the cardinals come to eat sunflower seeds—and I can tell you, a male, observed up close in morning light (maybe 40 inches from my eyes) is a splendid sight.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Yes your flirty gal pal is beautiful, and what a wonderful happenstance to capture her on film - BUT your turn of phrase, and ability to reflect on what is meaningful, mesmerizes. I'm so glad I found you - kind of like your other flirty girl. :)

Carolyn H said...

Griz:

Oh, she was flirting, no doubt about that!

Carolyn H.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

I've "enjoyed" a few bear moments myself, over the years—a few in the southern Appalachians, but most in northern Michigan and the Lake Superior country. We're even starting to see a few bear here in Ohio; one, a you male, was rambling around a month or so ago maybe thirty miles from here.

I'd rather feed redbirds than bears, though.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

Well, my "other flirty girl" flew away rather quickly; I hope you continue to read and enjoy these riverbank scribblings…and I thank you most sincerely for your nice words re. the writing.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Carolyn…

You think? We guys often misinterpret these things, you know.

A woman sitting at a table on the far side of a restaurant can be picking a bit of lettuce from her teeth, and we'll think for sure she's making a pass—and promptly spill our spaghetti in our laps as we hasten to dash across the room and make her dreams come true. (Of course some of us realize the true nature of the situation immediately, and are simply rushing over to offer the loan of the mini-pliers tool on our Swiss Army knife, which we carry in a sheath on our belt.)

Anyway, I'm glad for your astute feminine confirmation.

Wanda said...

Maybe she miss took you for a male cardinal...were you having a bad hair day, maybe one with a crest look to it...

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

Nahhh…had my morning shower, brushed my hair—no residual bed head look this time of day. I do currently have a slightly sunned complexion, more ruddy than red—so nothing there, either.

Nope, I'm thinking it was the cut-off shorts, the raffish grin, and the devil-may-care manner in which I clutched my coffee mug. Mr. Nonchalant…works on those redbird gals every time.

Gail said...

Hi Grizz-

Lovely piece of writing, indeed. I so appreciare how available you are to the moments that surround you. And this female cardinal with the red crown? Well, well. We have been visited quite often and did not know the name. She has a herring-bone-tweed "jacket" on and a lovely red crown. Yes? Tried to get a picture, but she didn't stay long enough.

Again, your writing is delightful and I am going to agree with you 100% that the cardinal was flirting with you and you were flirting back. I like it!! :-)

Love to you
Gail
peace.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

So often it is an unexpected vignette, a single brief moment that makes the day. I suppose I've become something of a connoisseur of such transient little dramas or events.

In a way, it's like being on a bus or train. As you go through a small town after dark, when the lights inside homes are on and their interiors show up like stages in a play, you can catch a fleeting glimpse of the lives being played out—just a moment's worth, almost voyeuristic at times, of people seated around the dinner table, an old man in a bare-bulb room, the couple arguing or dancing or standing in a kitchen with their backs to each other, oblivious to their shared presence.

Nature is no different, really. The small views are so revealing, so interesting—and so capable of framing the day with their mood or revelation.

And sometimes, if a fellow is lucky, a pretty redbird favors him with a bit of flirting.

Jayne said...

Guess you are lucky that her mate didn't fling himself at you, his competition. ;c) I watched a male perched on my neighbor's side mirror of his truck yesterday. Poor thing never could make his competitor go away!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

Huh…hadn't thought of that! I have cardinals right outside my deskside window throughout the day—and having looked them in the eye at really close range, I don't think I would want to mess with an irate boyfriend! They are sassy!

Gail said...

Hi Grizz-

My goodness you capture the moment with such honest beauty with your words - arranged and chosen like unique snow flakes all falling in to a blanket of lovey images. The way you described those brief moments while on a train took my breath away. I could "see" every 'scene'. Amazing.

And about that bird. The one I mentioned in my comment. It's covered in a herring-bone-tweed-feathered-"jacket" and has a red crown - that looks thick and wrinkly and actually looks more like a helmet than a crown. DO you know what type of bird it is?

Thanks Grizz

Love to you
Gail
peace.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Oops, forgot to follow-up on that part of your comment. Depending on size, if it's more robin-sized, I'd bet red-bellied woodpecker (male has red crown and nape, female, only red nape); more sparrow-sized (and neither of these birds show as pronounced a herringbone" or "hound's tooth" pattern) a downy woodpecker—or possible but even less likely, hairy woodpecker.

If this quick-n-dirty, long-distance, just-off-the-top-of-my-head guess/I.D. doesn't trip your trigger, then send me as much detail, description-wise, as you can—particularly size. I'm a mediocre birder, at best, though—so I'm not the miracle worker to put much faith in. If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…I say duck until proven otherwise. Then I get out my copy of Peterson's and begin thumbing pages…

Gail said...

Hi Grizz-

I just uploaded some photos and the bird I am asking about is one of the pictures. will post them tomorrow. It is not a great picture though - oh well.

My doctor appt. got moved up to today. sigh........I always get so nervous. Decisions/options have to be discussed and made. I am leaving here at 2:00. After the appt. I am headed to my Mom and sister's house. Phew. We will have supper together. I am bringing them home made eggplant dipped in my famous marinara sauce. I can't wait until the doctor appt. is behind me and I am on my way to my family. I am all a flutter.

Love you
Gail
peace....

Raph G. Neckmann said...

What a lovely post, Grizzled! I'm sure the redbird lady was flirting with you!

I love what you say about framing the day. I think we often have a choice of frames even in a short space of time - and I do like to focus on the ones that are delightful and humorous too!

Kelly said...

...without focusing, aiming, or thinking...just clicking, it's a wonderful capture. I can see her crest rising. It's hard to capture that. You mentioned you needed a picture to help capture that moment, but your writing is crystal and captures the moment perfectly!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

I'll look for the bid pix and we'll see what I can manage.

You have my prayers and very best wishes for your doctors appointment. And I'll drop you an email in just a few minutes.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Raph…

Nothing like a flirty redbird to make a guy's day!

And I do believe even such a small, magical moment can frame our day…if only we choose. So often we do the opposite—allow a small argument over breakfast, a rude driver on the way to work, a late appointment, or some similar silly little negative to color the rest of our day. Why is it so easy to focus on the negative when every single day, if we just pay attention, there are events and moments that are positive or uplifting? A bit of birdsong, a pastel sunrise, flowers along the roadway, an old dog who comes to you while you're drinking your coffee and lays her head in your lap…a flirty cardinal. Evey day is filled with such riches—but we stomp around for hours because we couldn't find a parking space or we dropped jam on our shirt.

Nope, I choose the small, good moments. Or at least I try to…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly…

I just got plain lucky with the shot—and especially getting that moment when her crest came up, because she only kept it up an instant.

Thank you re. the writing.