There is a young man, maybe in his 20s, who has been frequenting Council Point Park lately. Nate is a kindred spirit, who similarly enjoys the Park’s ambiance and is particularly infatuated with the squirrels and birds. One day last week he paused at the spot where I was feeding the squirrels.
Nate quickly became intrigued by a cardinal, who interjected himself into the feeding frenzy. His face lit up as he turned to me and said “hey, this is so cool!” and he was genuinely enjoying the experience, so I poured out some peanuts from my bag into his hands to share with him. He quickly tossed a few out and a couple of squirrels raced over to where they landed, followed by one red cardinal which alighted on the asphalt path soon thereafter.
Nate took out his phone and started taking a video of the whole scene, then showed me that video, along with some others of eagles and swans that he had recently seen.
We chatted a little while our furry and feathered friends enjoyed their treats. Then we both looked up in the tree and noticed the male cardinal looking down at us expectantly, probably awaiting more peanuts to be doled out to the squirrels, so he could nab one. “Your turn” I told Nate, and, once again, he tossed several peanuts onto the asphalt path.
Then he asked me if I had heard of the legend of the cardinal and what their presence signified. I responded that yes, I had heard that theory. Next, Nate asked me if I believed that these cardinals in the Park were angels of loved ones lost who were reaching out to those they left behind. I told Nate that would be a pleasant thought, and I’d like to believe that this scarlet beauty was my mom, who dearly loved cardinals, collected figurines of them, and that Mom was looking over my shoulder as I strolled around my favorite nature nook.
I also conceded it is likely that the cardinal’s motives are not 100% pure and our daily meet-and-greet at the same tree is likely to swipe peanuts when the squirrels are not looking. He smiled at my reasoning.
But, after I said goodbye to Nate and headed home, I replayed our conversation in my mind. I decided that sometimes it is not always so great to be a realist, and occasionally one should indulge in a little fiction or fantasy.
If you’ve never heard the legend about the cardinals, I found it on Pinterest.
I don’t have a tree filled with cardinals looking down at me.
And, he is always in the same tree.
This is the picture I took that morning in the Park when I met Nate.
And here’s another photo of the cardinal, a bright spot in a bare tree, in the tail end of Winter.
I lost my mom on January 31, 2010 and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. If she is indeed looking down on me, she would be clucking her tongue, because she was a fastidious housekeeper, and she liked the house, both inside and outside, to look immaculate at all times. She likely would chastise me for being out walking, or writing this blog post, when there are other items that need my attention.
We clearly skipped a generation, for I don’t have those same genes as Mom. These days I try not to sweat the small stuff, but put blinders on instead.
Note to Mom – I love you, but if you’re looking down on me, please ignore those dust bunnies and dandelions, okay?
[Image of The Legend of the Cardinals from Pinterest.]