He sits there like an impatient flame in the dim light of another cloudy winter morning, watching me out of the corner of his eye as the wind ruffles his scarlet feathers. His punk-rocker crest is stuck straight up, adding to the look of restlessness.
"I don't know what you're waiting for," I say, in a conversational voice. The cardinal is perched on a limb no more than ten feet away, and I slide my glance from the bird to the river beyond, which is up maybe two feet and slightly muddy. "The feeders are filled with sunflowers seeds and cracked corn, and there's more cracked corn on the ground and the stump, 'cause I know you don't like socializing with the sparrows and finches."
The redbird gives me the sort of imperious look the patrician classes are wont to employ on uppity tradesmen who deliver their groceries. I fling out another half-scoop of cracked corn. "There! Satisfied?"
In these final December days, as the old year wanes and the new one speeds our way, the usual quiet interim between holidays is somehow neither restive nor reflective. There are still things to do, preparations to make, a bit of shopping, a sort of low-key party at one of the newspaper offices which I need to attend a couple of hours from now. Tomorrow the tree will come down and the decorations will be packed away and stored for another year. I don't know how to explain it, but this year the holiday season seems to have gotten away from me. I'm not disappointed or sad…just emptier than normal. Why?
Maybe I'm just tired. That old redbird isn't the only one out of sorts….