Sunday, June 26, 2022

La Famille Cardinale

This is a love story...or not.

{Apologies, for this and the majority of the other photos in this post. They were taken through a screened window of my kitchen.} 

I have learned so very much these past many weeks.
 I have learned about faithfulness, the importance of a true partner in this world; that there can be danger where you least expect it, that there are others who take advantage of others, that life goes on after loss. I have learned that the cycle of life can be both beautiful and sad, that life is better with a song in your heart, that things can and do change quickly, that "littles" grow up equally quickly, and that one should never, ever, become complacent to the point of taking things for granted.
Oh...and I learned about cardinals.

I am not certain where to begin, but perhaps the beginning would be the best place, no?

First, for some introductions:
Papa Cardinal...

If you read my last post, you would have seen a cardinal camouflaged in a tree in the following photo.  That would be Monsieur Cardinal.

Most times, cardinals can be a bit elusive (sometimes making one wonder if it was illusive).
But Monsieur Cardinal was a constant - and quite vocal - visitor.

{Trés beau, non?}

Had I been a bit more perceptive, I would have realized why the very trees seemed to bleed with song:
Mademoiselle Cardinal

There was an official courtship underway.
So, being cognizant of my both my moral duties and my legal duties, I married them forthwith.

Now, to be truthful, I am not entirely certain which came first - the chicken or the egg the ceremony or the nest.  All I can say is that things happened quite quickly, and I was relieved to learn that, unlike most humans these days, cardinals mate for life.

And soon Monsieur and Madame Cardinal were expectant parents.

{Although difficult to see, there are two eggs in the nest.}

I then realized that my duties did not end at just being the officiant and making an honest woman bird of Madame C.
Oh no...they had just begun.

I had to defend those little eggs from predators. 
And let me tell you, Nod may be the furthest thing from a big city you can find these days, but there are a great many predators here.

So, when I wasn't warding off these:
{Snakes...not concrete tortoises....}

...chasing off these guys:

...or trying to shoo these:
{A red squirrel just for you Saundra...}

... or climbing on top of things no person should climb upon just to get a peek or take a photo, I worried.  (And I bet you thought I was doing nothing since I last posted. For shame.)

But the happy day arrived, and the first little "chirps" wafted through my kitchen window.

But like "real" life, no love story is without some sort of tragedy or heartbreak.
There had been two eggs, but there was only one hatchling.  😢

I am not certain what happened.  Had it been a snake who climbed up there (THIS has happened, trust me...there is a post somewhere way back in my older posts that contains gruesome evidence of that), I would have thought both eggs would be gone.

But the more I pondered it, the more I REALLY started worrying.
Cowbirds are plentiful in these parts and cowbirds are notorious brood parasites - meaning they will pirate and/or destroy the eggs of another species bird's nest and leave their own eggs for the mistress of that nest to raise. 

And so I worried some more.

But worry just steals one's joy, so I put it quickly behind me, and watched the little one thrive (and studied photos of cowbird and cardinal nestlings just to be sure the nestling wasn't a cardinal imposter.)

{Love the little wisps of "hair" feathers on the top of his head...Think he had nest hair that day.}

I also gained a whole new respect and admiration for cardinals.
Papa Cardinal wore himself to a frazzle helping Maman Cardinal build the nest, then flying back and forth to the nest feeding both Maman and Bébé Cardinal.
It is also his responsibility to change the diapers (i.e., carry out the nestling(s)' poop sacks).  (True story...research it.)

During this time (assuming she is like "typical" cardinals), Maman had built another nest (cardinals do not reuse their nests) and started a new family, taking turns tending to her newborn and going back to sit on her soon-to-be newborns.  Papa, in turn,  was truly stretched to the limit flitting back and forth between two homes nests, changing diapers, feeding Bébé and feeding Maman.

And then "that" day came - the day Bébé left the nest.  I kept thinking I would have more time, but he grew so very quickly.  Like I said previously, there is hurt in every life and some sadness in every love story.  Papa and Maman, however thin their time was stretched, were there for the big moment. 

They took turns flying back to the nest to coax Bébé further and further.

And then Bébé was gone.  
I waited and waited for him to come back, but hours went by and he didn't.
Papa did come back a few times checking the nest, but no Bébé.

Finally, close to dusk, Bébé returned, by himself, to the nest.
He did not stay long, however, and did not, to my knowledge spend the night there.

The nest now sits abandoned...and each time I look out my kitchen window, I am reminded of the joy La Famille Cardinale gave me if only for a few, brief, weeks.

But, oh, is it quiet.  I had grown accustomed to their songs every time I stepped outside or opened a window.

The mockingbird is here still and sings such wonderful songs, but he does not know the cardinal's song.

The End

Sunday, June 5, 2022

And Just Like That It's June....


Like the roads to Nod, however, the road to summer here has had its ups and downs.

Summer, it seems, is a timid bride this year.

We have a handful of summer-like days...where we go from 50 to 90.
And then we are back to mid-60's, and very low 40's for lows.

And wind...lots of wind.
And you know how I feel about wind.

But, slowly, things are greening, and plants are blooming.

The first bridesmaid is always the always-flamboyant rhododendron.

The others follow toute de suite in a pink and purple explosion.

{Weeping Tina Crabapple}

{Volunteer Vinca growing in the patio stones}

{With a slow, cold, spring, the blooms of the lilacs were more abundant and sweeter.}

And avian coteries welcome the newcomers with bursts of song.
{Look closely...a cardinal's camouflage.}

I think this year is the year I finally will be making good on my vow to forgo annuals. Bitterly bittersweet.

It's a good thing I am easily amused by nature as my "crafting" (is that what we are still calling it these days??) mojo has gone on another walkabout apparently.
 I started stitching another larger piece, but there is no progress worth posting at this point.

I did venture to the Island of the Unfinished and was not inspired to attempt any rescues other than finishing this one little piece I had finished the stitching on a year ago:

{"1776" from the talented Marly of Samplers and Santas.}

I couldn't seem to capture the true colors (and, yes, there is some distressing to it), but they are somewhere between the above photo and the photo below.

I am not impressed with my finishing and will not point out all the likely can figure that out for yourself.... 
So, I abandoned the Island.


I think I have missed sharing a few reads with you (I've been MIA a while, no?), but I don't believe I shared this one with you yet.

This is the third book by this author I've read.  I fell in love with her debut book, "The House Between Tides," about which I previously posted.  This book, however, I am a bit equivocal about.  I enjoyed it, but it was a transparent "clone" of her first book. While I somewhat felt like I was being able to continue the reading adventure I had enjoyed in the first book, this was not a sequel of any sorts...yet the main plot and subplots were just too similar.  I actually started confusing a few things between the two books while reading.  (No comments re the ease with which that confusion thing is accomplished these days...please.)
She even used some of the same character names....but they weren't the same characters.  😧 

Anyway, do with it what you will.  If you liked The House Between Tides and would like another "fix," have at it.  I am not the one who enjoys Hallmark movies with the same repetitive themes, so I give it a "meh."


Well, I'm off to finish assembling a wheel barrow.  
Who has more fun than me?

Have a good new week ahead everyone.