seeing red cardinals. . .

by mulberryshoots

photo taken by Timothy Hardin

Whenever I am driving along in the car and a red cardinal swoops in front of me, I think of it as a good omen. I don’t know why but I think of it as a secret messenger whispering in my ear that something good is going to happen. Or, simply that “hey, everything is fine!” It is a bird of affirmation. With this unfounded bias, whenever I see cardinals, the rosy, light brown female and the bright scarlet male, I sense that the Universe is playing a song and that I should listen to it.

In February, two years ago, my father lay in a bed by a basement window. He could see the trunk of a shrub outlined there if you propped his head up with a pillow. A few days before he died, we heard birds hopping on the branches of that shrub. When we looked up, we gasped when we saw not a pair of cardinals, but two pairs of cardinals. Yes, there were four adult cardinals brightly hopping on that shrub. If they were a “sign” of anything, the cardinals did not tell us what it was. They lingered for at least two days. Right on that same shrub–it seemed as though they were giving some last messages to my Dad while he was still here on earth. Or maybe vice versa, who knows?

My husband, G, is aware of my affection for cardinals. He shares an affinity for them too, I think. One day last year as I unloaded groceries from the car onto our front steps, he greeted me with a “shh” and beckoned for me to enter the side door of the house. Along the south wall, there was a twelve foot high iron trellis that G had erected years ago to support a bower of climbing roses, mostly pale pink “New Dawn” intermingled with “Constance Spry” . Signalling for me to step quietly inside the saw room, he pointed at the window and the underside of the rose bower, whispering the word, “nest.”

A proud father cardinal stood on a branch near a nest of baby cardinals, the mother nowhere to be seen. She returned a little later after a break sitting on the Sassafras tree on the other side of the driveway. Here, we witnessed two pairs of cardinals, parents and babies. Seeing them so close up in a nest built next to the house brought back the memory of the two pairs we had witnessed at my father’s bedside.

I don’t know what cardinals represent but click here to see what Ted Andrews, in his book Animal Speak says about them.