Six weeks ago, this Mama cardinal and her mate, set up camp in the tree outside my writing room window.
Together they built a small, compact nest that managed to withstand a few walloping summer storms with high winds. She sat patiently through the heat wave, beak parted. Occasionally she'd head out for a bite to eat, only to return to sit some more. She was very patient; a model of patience. And since I am most often impatient, wriggling out of yet another skin, I found myself sitting by the window to watch her.
Every day I'd watch her sit.
We sat together although she took no notice of me.
Fiscal matters, partisan politics, aging parents, litterbugs...none of this stuff was on her radar.
She was nesting.
Making ready for new life.
It's been years since I adopted this small red bird as my official writing totem, my lucky charm.
A flash of red wings; I feel a charge: write.
I bought a cardinal with my mother years ago. You can find these tiny birds in any floral shop. I didn't know that at the time. I remember holding it in my hand, so happy to have found it.
Back home, I placed my bright red cardinal on the windowsill and wrote. That summer-into-fall was a prolific time. A full-length play flew out of me faster than I could get dialogue on paper.
It was a giddy time.
Mama hatched her chicks. Triplets.
When I saw their necks reaching, mouths wide...
feed me feed me feed me feed me feed me
I thought, baby birds do not hold back.
A cardinal totem almost always reflects the need to assert the feminine aspects of creativity and intuition more strongly...They remind us that regardless of the time of day or year, we always have opportunity to renew our own vitality...
- from Animal Speak by Ted Andrews