Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Small Smudge of Red

I walked out on my small patio today with a plate of seeds and breadcrumbs to scatter on my little yard.

I have "Cat TV" - a large glass door that looks out over my very tiny kingdom and the animals that visit it. I enjoy Cat TV as much as my roommates do.

I saw him when I turned to go back inside. He looked like one of my Christmas tree ornaments, the one Mom had sewn together from red felt many years ago and which still sits on one of the top branches of my tree every year. He was a cardinal, a male, in glorious red plumage, quite still and very dead.

I must have stood there for several moments, not even noticing the freezing cold air. I could feel myself start to tear.

I can handle dead people (I've done it for more than forty years) a lot better than I can handle dead animals - even a bird. Gently I turned him over, thinking maybe he was just stunned. No, he was dead. I placed him on the paper plate that held the seeds and bread crumbs and went inside for paper towels for his shroud and a plastic bag for his coffin.

I wrapped him up and placed him the bag, tying it tight and putting in a spot safe from the neighborhood's feral cats.

"Sing in the Summerland," I said to the small bundle and went back inside my warm apartment, having learned one more lesson from nature.

Even the most beautiful of us have an ending.


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