Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Cardinal

You silently requested a cardinal
So many years ago, so it came.
I heard you and, as soon as you were ready, I came.
I listened.  And for as long as you recognize that,
You'll see cardinals and robins and jays.

When I was little - we're talking seven or eight - I wanted a desk.  A big, wooden desk, not unlike the one my teacher sat behind.  One day I came home from school to find one in the spare bedroom that my father had adopted from the Power Commission.  It was huge and heavy, solidly constructed of oak, just like those desks you see people giving away online or for cheap prices at used furniture stores because they weigh too much to move.  I loved it.  Not long after it was left behind because it was too big for the truck carrying our fleeing family to Halifax.  I cried for many losses that day.

My favourite colour has always been red - excepting a brief flirtation with pink when I was just learning the subtleties of childhood rebellion.  I asked my mother to make me red pants when I was little, and she did.  I coloured dinosaurs red, until I was told they should be brown or grey.  I tried to make the Montreal Canadiens my favourite team because I loved the way the uniforms popped on the hockey cards I collected - I couldn't do it though, there's no reasonable justification for liking that team, even for a six year old.

I noticed, really noticed, my first blue jay when I was a young adult and stood outside the apartment building door marveling at the colour.  It wasn't brown or grey or white.  It was spectacular.  Then I wondered why there aren't red birds.  The orange on a robin is wonderful, but they are often so haggled looking, having braved a Maritime winter and orange isn't red.  Why weren't there cardinals in Nova Scotia?  I supposed cardinals only lived in exotic locales, such as St. Louis.

In 2010 I met my soul mate, someone I've been looking for, knowing full well she existed somewhere, since I was born and it wasn't long after that I moved to Saint John.  One day, while standing at the kitchen window doing the dishes, a chore with whom I have a strange relationship, I saw red in the tree.  There was my cardinal.  He had a mate.

I hadn't seen this pair for a couple weeks, they seemed to have been replaced by robins, but this morning I noticed the missus as she coquetted shamelessly with the tiny window on our neighbour's garage, a behaviour she has become known for, as her man waited patiently nearby.  I was glad to see them.

In the animal world, I have learned, red is a dangerous colour.  It is actually a defense.  It warns predators that this is not a meal that will sit well if digested.  I wonder how this applies to my attraction to this chroma.

Now I know that if I truly want something, it will come.  When I'm ready to see that I really do want it, it will be there for me.  And, as long as I know this, it will stay for as long as I need.  I have always wanted a Canadian 1921 five cent piece, but with my newfound knowledge, I think I'll aim even higher.

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