While our house was being built this past year, every time we would drive out to see the progress, we would see birds. So many birds. Really pretty birds, blue jays and blue birds, giant fat hawks making deceptively lazy circles in the sky, crows by the murder. And always, always, a cardinal or two.
I can't remember who it was I told about the cardinals, but they told me that they bring you messages from the other side like the Long Island Medium (When I watch Theresa Caputo do her thing, I scold my dad for not telling her to come and find me), so when you see a cardinal, you can be assured that someone on the other side is thinking of you. I don't know if that's true, but I like to think that when I see a cardinal, my dad is watching over me.
When I would see cardinals flying around our home site—around the rafters as the walls were going up and once, flying out from the foundation of our home—I took it as a sign from Dad. It was reassuring to think that he was looking over this move, and it felt like he was giving me approval.
Fast forward a few seasons. The house is built, the paperwork is signed and we've moved in. Every now and then we'd still see plenty of birds and a cardinal or two in the back woods, and it still made my heart sing to see that bright shot of red.
My view from the kitchen was filled with trees and birds, so I put a feeder in the trees and filled it with cardinal-friendly food to let them know this was a friendly destination for them to land.
During our move, a few items did not make the transition as well as others. We lost a few tchotchkes, nothing major, but one that took a lot of damage was a Ski Country End of the Trail mini decanter that was my dad's. My mom gave it to me after my dad passed because she knew it would be meaningful to me, in Oklahoma.
But this move proved to be the literal end of the trail for this little ceramic decanter. I tried to put him back together, but the glue wouldn't hold to the ceramic (though it held just fine to my fingers). He was more broken than I could fix. I thought about all the other things in our home that are filled with my dad's spirit—things he made with his own hands, pictures of his smile, his old CDs, the last bottle of whiskey he'd bought. I figured it was okay to let this go.
I said a quiet "sorry, Dad," and deposited the pieces in the trash. I looked up at that moment and was amazed to see a cardinal on my little bird feeder. Finally!
I may have exclaimed, "holy crap there's a cardinal on the bird feeder!"
And that was the first and last time I saw a cardinal on that feeder.
I continue to watch my bird feeder expectantly.
Can you see it hidden back there?
It's sort of camouflaged, but I figured that would be good for the birds. Maybe the big, scary murders of crows and fat hawks and squirrels will stay away while all the cardinals flock around and enjoy their tasty treats.
I relayed my story of woe to a few friends and joked that maybe I needed to lure dad back with some whiskey on the bird feeder, the same way some family and friends suggested I bless the house when we moved in. When my dad passed, my mom gave me his last bottle of whiskey, after all. We laughed. But...
I mean... what would it hurt, right?
And the more I thought about it, I decided that it was worth a shot. Literally.
So, I grabbed one of the shot glasses from the cabinet, tipped a little Guckenheimer into it and trotted out to the bird feeder.
I dipped my finger, touched the roof of the feeder and each of the perches all around, then poured out the rest onto the ground underneath the branch where the feeder hangs.
I'm still waiting, and just yesterday there was a plethora of birds sniffing around the feeder, so maybe it just takes a little time for word to get around. I even saw a bunch of female cardinals in the front yard this morning, so maybe
I'll keep you posted.