Sign of Spring

by Kathy Rembisz

Northern cardinal sitting on an ice covered branch following winter storm

Long before I actually saw the creature I heard the sweet, soothing sound of chirping outside my window. Putting on my glasses and peering outside, I squinted into the rising sun.
“Chirp, chirp, chirp,” it beckoned to me, as though a child playing hide-and-seek.
Trying to follow the sounds, I was still unable to locate the morning performer with the strong lungs.
“Chirp, chirp, chirp” — a catch-me-if-you-can game if ever I heard one.
Distinct and clear, the bird bellowed as though seeking something, a mate perhaps. Just when I’d given up finding the soprano, a speck of movement in my peripheral vision could not be ignored.  Literally planting my face up against the window and squinting even more — was it time for new glasses already? — I detected the culprit in the distance.  There in the midst of the brush, filled with leftover leaves and bare without its spring bloom, sat a single bird.  I was pleased to discover that it wasn’t just any bird who serenaded me this fine morning, even if a bit too early, but the burning red of a bright cardinal.
While always pleased to hear the chirping of birds after a long winter, nothing signifies the change of seasons, the hope of spring, like the cardinal.  With its distinctive voice and color, it stands out amongst the crowd.
“Chirp, chirp, chirp,” it continued, aware that it now had an audience.
With its bright, bold beak held high in the air, the cardinal continued to belt out its strong message.  While the bird darted off from time to time, the singing didn’t stop.  From the perch above the porch to another set of nondescript bushes, it continued to play its distinct tune.
This unannounced visit was just what I needed to brighten my spirits on such a cold, dreary winter day.  But, as it turns out, the cardinal may have been a bit premature with its message; it seems a winter weather advisory is in effect for our area for tomorrow.  Ha!  I thought it was too good to be true.
Hopefully, the cardinal will at least return tomorrow, its distinct color much easier to spot against the white, winter blanket that will fall.