I hear a tweet in the trees as I lay in the sun on this sultry July day.
That’s what it sounds like to my untrained ear. I’m sure I’m missing some nuance of tone that would immediately identify the origin of this tweet-tweeting. It is a quick five count- “tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet,” asking, “Hello? Are you here?”
I lay on my back, floating in almost too warm water for a day such as this. With my eyes closed, it is much easier to hear where the bird speak is emanating from. There is a definitive pattern to this chatter: five quick tweets, silence, then movement. I’m still unsure what species of avian this is, so methodically searching for something.
My curiosity has gotten the best of me, and I must open my eyes to spy yon feathered friend. With my hand shielding my eyes from the glare of the July sun, I scan the mulberry tree for my winged visitor. There! A crimson blur. I follow it as it alights onto a branch of the adjacent maple tree. He is hidden in the shade, yet his color, so bright, seems to sparkle ruby red as the light dapples through the branches.
“Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet,” he asks, perched on a thin branch. He looks about, clearly waiting for a reply. Receiving none (or at least non that my auditory system could perceive) off, he flits to another branch higher in the tree.
And what is this, I hear? A new sound. Softer. I glance up and am barely able to perceive through the leaves some small movements subsequent to the first bird. I slowly move closer to shift my perspective. Aloud I ask Sir Cardinal, “Is it your mate you were searching for? Have you found her, sir?”
My question is immediately answered as I stop under said branch.
Alas, it is not his mate that he was searching for after all. It is his offspring.
Little cardinal sitting on the branch next to her concerned father. He cocks his head to and fro while he issues soft “cheeps” to his young one.
After a moment or two, he flies away into a nearby pine tree. I look back to the fledgling holding tight to the branch. Look now; Papa has returned with lunch! Once his fledgling is fed, sir cardinal resumes his gentle lecture to his offspring. He ends his remarks, pauses to look around, and back to his youngling. He issues one final “tweet” and hops to another branch. He stops and waits for her to follow. He calls out with a barely perceptible “chirp,” his fledgling hops to meet him on the branch. He urges her to follow close, bounding branch by branch. Each time he lands, he turns back to see his offspring hop to him.
I watch them until his vibrant red plumage is no longer visible through the verdant foliage.
It is at moments like this that I am reminded of the delicate dance of life. We spend most of our life in self-centered folly, too busy to notice the choreography all around us, connecting us in time and space to the waltz of the Universe.