2:30 a.m. and I am out in the driveway with my little old lady dog. We’ve been at this schedule for many months now, and I do my best to remain partially asleep while also not slipping on the ice that has been plaguing us all winter. On nights when the sky is clear I steal glances into the twinkling heavens, then dart my eyes back to my dog, watching her maneuver ice on arthritic joints.
Tonight I heard my old friend the barred owl. Owl sightings have been non-existent this winter. We’ve not even heard them calling in the distance. But now – finally! – my friend is outside in the treeline that hugs our waterfront. Small blessings. A bird calls in the night and a weary woman feels the corners of her lips turn up in a genuine smile.
Several cardinal pairs have been with us this winter. The male cardinal’s blood-red plumes always draw my attention. Typically animals survive by blending in, going unnoticed, keeping under the radar. Not so, male cardinal. Wearing the most audacious outfit in a bleak landscape and not even worried about the hawks and eagles that come to my land to find lunch.
I did a little research on why the cardinal has survived despite his flamboyant coloring: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/why-so-red-mr-cardinal-nestwatch-explains/
The bottom line seems to be that his enjoys using his fancy gear to show off for the ladies more than he cares about dulling down and hiding out from danger. Living on the edge, then.
Last winter I stood in the woods for forty five minutes, snow lightly falling, and watched this pileated woodpecker fling chunks of wood from this tree. I could spend happy hours every day wandering the woods and watching the winged and furred and slippery creatures that share this land with us.
If ever you can’t find me look to the woods. You’ll find my laptop bag will lead you into the trail. I will have dropped its heavy weight from my tired shoulders and left it for ants to explore and ferns to grow around.
I will be stepping lightly, so you won’t be able to locate my by listening for tromping feet. Rather, listening for my singing. Then walk until you come to a bend in the trail where you’ll find my cracked cell phone lies ringing. Don’t answer it. Just veer right. Ten paces and you’re over a knoll and deep in an old pine forest. See the water in the distance? You’ll find me at its edge, crouched or bent or otherwise scheming to capture a photo of a lovely creature – or a footprint or just the water slipping by on its way to somewhere else. You won’t be able to mistake me for anyone else. I’ll be the grinning girl clutching a camera.