“Cardinals sit like bright gift bows on snowy branches and bring cheer to colorless winter days.” c.e.hollis
Not a leaf is left on the sky-reaching branches of the sycamore tree outside my family room window. The cardinals love the debarked limbs and the seed feeders hung like Christmas tree ornaments in its branches. They are winter birds that stay here for the duration and enjoy the cold weather. I counted four pairs this morning and in coming weeks more will move in until we have ten or twelve couples.
The sycamore reigns over the farm. It has grown taller now than any of the oaks or pecan trees. My children used to love climbing and playing up in the branches amid the dinnerplate sized leaves. The tree shades my porch and makes the side yard a nicer place for sitting on a hot summer’s day. In the fall we light our patio fire pit, wrap ourselves in blankets, and sit out on the porch swing evenings to listen to the farm.
There is the sound of our cows, the mamas bawling at calves, the mooing, and contented lowing at the “brother-herd.” There is the sound of the wind rattling the clusters of dry leaves in the big oak. It sounds like an African rain stick, almost like fine but unsteady rainfall on a tin roof. There is the sound of dogs barking and occasionally a pack of coyotes howling at the night. Often we hear owls: screech owls whinnying, great horned owls laughing, barking, yipping, and who-who-who-who-whoing back and forth to one another from the creek banks and the screech of spook-faced barn owls.
The cardinals songs are varied and musical whistles with tweets and churrs thrown in. They are happy sounds in the dreary wintertime. Their color on a drab gray day or on a snowy day sends a message of hope––beautiful, sweet hope amid the troubles and trials and the harsh parts of life.