One of the baby cardinal birds from the nest in the cherry tree has jumped from the haven of woven twigs before growing large enough to fly.
Watching two feathered parents raise offspring in a nest above my wind chime has kept me sedate during these worry filled days of unemployment, but two days ago, one of the tiny, not yet red cardinals plummeted to the soft soil of my vegetable garden.
Every morning for several months now, my two cats fought for territory at my feet—dashing away briefly to run after father cardinal—the dark red creature with beady eyes and a black feather mask that enhances the glow of his golden beak. The birds seemed to torment the cats purposely—attempting perhaps to lure them from the shade beneath the cherry tree.
Pages of great books were turned to the rhythm of kneeling city buses while the birds hatched. The buses seemed to come along as I ended my chapters, stopping at an unseen street corner on the other side of a large brick building that hides this oasis from the rest of the city.
Gentle breezes caressed my bent neck as I looked down to consume another worm written by Carlos Castaneda—“The Active Side of Infinity.” The birds sang sweetly from above as the pages sheltered my boredom–my neck sunburned in the identical shade of mother cardinal.
Zucchini that I planted when Michelle Obama planted the White House vegetable garden have transformed the barren soil plot into a carpet of green—it seemed from the corner of my eye that I could see the zucchini grow although the birds remained hidden in that nest just above arm’s reach.
As the parents of the hatchlings flew to the nest, a chorus in high-octaves erupted, drowning the trumpeting engines from jet planes flying into JFK.
My bird feeder was topped off with fresh sunflower seeds just a few days ago—my way of assisting the cardinals in rearing their young. The parents simply jump to the feeder when the cats are not sitting under it—fearless of me and my books. Quickly they shelled the seeds with powerful beaks, chewing the tender cores on their way to the nest and once again, the chorus sings.
Lazy mid-day set in with a tender lullaby of bees singing to the buzz of harp- like wings. The cats head inside for shade—so do I—for an omelet.
The tabby rests on a green sofa, the calico sneaks away to the t-shirt drawer which is always left open like a nest for her.
As I sit at the window eating my eggs, I notice what appears to be a little mouse where the cats had just been balled up outside. Mother and father bird are frantic.
The baby is attempting to fly. It fell from the nest!
Quickly I close the windows—the cats fast to their naps fail to notice the show outside. Funny I thought how that bird came out of the nest the moment the cats went inside.
All day the little bird attempted flight but not enough feathers covered her half- bald body. The tiny birds made its way to a rock just below my window and just sat there all day.
“I’m sorry little bird; I cannot touch you, for if I do, your parents will abandon you. Besides, I don’t have a cage and already there are two to a litter box in here.”
The tiny bird looks at me with such innocence—seemingly thrilled to be out of that nest. Quickly the father comes along, filling her gaping mouth with more nourishment, not concerned with me at the window with my eggs.
All day I worried over that little creature—not thinking of my own eviction—most certainly on the way if I soon don’t find work. The poor cats are banned from the back yard, furious at me for not letting them outside.
Night rolled in with heavy rain. All night I tossed and turned with thought of that little, flightless bird. I pull the curtain back slowly in the morning, my feelings drenched again at the sight of the lake that has formed around my zucchini due to yet another drenching rainstorm in Brooklyn.
Almost afraid to investigate what became of the baby cardinal, I simply stand like a stork at my window. There’s dad. There’s mom—yes the baby is still alive—she’s at the back of the yard hiding in a pile of weeds that I left for decomposition before bagging.
And I read on—
“The sorcerers of my linage call it infinity, the spirit, the dark sea of awareness, and say that it is something that exists out here and rules our lives…”