Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Cardinal

This is a different angle of an old house I photographed down New Point and posted a while ago. The whole "out with the old, in with the new" saying associated with New Year's Eve reminded me of this old house because the barn next to it recently fell over...out with the old. Speaking of old houses and holidays, below is something Chesapeake Bay Mother wrote that involves both.

A Perfect Storm
By Chesapeake Bay Mother

Once when I was in high school, we had a big snowstorm during Christmas holiday vacation. It increased our time home by a couple of weeks. Mother and I lived alone in the old house* which didn’t have storm windows, though comfortable enough, and having no school was better than anything under the tree. This was a particularly bleak time in our life, my parents having separated and our net worth having nothing but net.

On this day, the snow was newly fallen and more was promised. I sat on our sofa before a window close to a young magnolia tree and watched television. Gradually I noticed a regular tapping behind me. Thinking a tree branch motivated by the north wind was making the noise, I kept my gaze on the television screen. Again the tapping came, more insistent and forceful, and I turned to see a red blur on the icy pane. Wiping the condensation away revealed the up-close visage of one of our state birds, the cardinal, peering inquisitively back at me. He stunned me with his boldness as well as his bright plumage. Having cracked corn on hand, I fetched a handful, opened the window several inches and spread it on the sill from which I had brushed the snow. Retreating a few feet, I watched him fly from the magnolia to the window sill and begin to eat. He didn’t seem to mind that I was near. When satisfied, he flew off and I closed the window—touched that I had been allowed to come so close to a wild creature.

The next day, he returned; this time with his mate. They took turns flying to the window and pecking. Their handful of grain provided, I would watch them eat at close range for several days and feel very connected to the two.

After the snow was gone, they no longer required special help and moved on where their lives took them; and I did as well. But in that snowstorm, at that window, there was communication and understanding and cooperation…and I believe it was beyond coincidence that they selected my window**. You could say their needs and my needs collided in mutual compassion.
CBW's Notes/Comments
* This house was the old Gloucester Day School, now Ware Academy, in Gloucester.
** This was the beginning of a lifelong relationship with wild animals. She even had a pet fox once in that very same house. I believe they led the thing around on a leash, I don't know, I might be confusing stories, but I can assure you she had a pet fox. It may have been a chicken they had on a leash, while somebody picked a banjo in the background, but there was a pet fox, and some animal that was not a dog on a leash.

Yes, her love of animals continues to this day, and we now have a flock of non-migratory geese who visit her house for 3 square meals a day and ducks who are treated to overnight stays in a zipped-up tent to protect them from predators. (These are the very predators who can kill a duck, but evidently not pierce a tent.)

Welcome to the Chesapeake Bay Family Wild Kingdom, sponsored by Mutual of Omaha.

(p.s. Chesapeake Bay Mother - I love you, your love for animals, and your writing.)


Unknown said...

That was such a beautiful and meaningful story. Perfect for the season.
The fox and chicken on a leash....hysterical!

Bear Naked said...

Have added something else on my lifes-to-do-list.
Must meet Chesapeake Bay Family.

Bear((( )))

Val said...

a chicken on a leash - that could give you a run-around.. all sounds very cool to me. ducks in a tent, foxes, cardinals pecking on windows.. lovely HNY x

Val said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bayman said...

We'll watch from the safety of the truck, while Jim wrestles this giant fiddler crab....having a little trouble, Jim?
That's why it's important to have a good insurance policy, like Mutual of Omaha. Marlon would have loved it around there.

Meg McCormick said...

We have a neighbor who is like that with animals. I call her Marlin Perkins. It's all Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom over there! Sounds like it is thus with your mom, too. And that's very, very cool.

Happy New Year,CBW! Let's rendezvous in '09, OK?

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year to the entire CB family

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, to all the "naturely" well-adjusted Marlin and Marlina Perkins out there! Jim, too.


Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

GJ - I'll find out from her today whether it was the fox or the chicken on the leash.

BN - Come on down - we're planning a blogapalooza in the spring (BHE and I).

Val - You have to see it to believe it, words cannot adequately convey the flavor of the live experience.

Bayman - Too funny. I'll bet even Jim couldn't tame these killer fiddler crabs, no siree, they're a special, ferocious breed around here.

Meg - Hopefully we can see you at whatever blogfest we plan for the spring, right now just in the "talking" stages. BHE and I need to have a planning meeting sometime soon. We're hoping Mental P. M. and Grandma J. and all of our "regulars" can participate even if they aren't exactly local.

Phyl and MMM- Happy New Year to you and your families too.

(MMM, I just doublechecked, and "well-adjusted" is nowhere to be found in the CB Family lexicon. It's a very nice sentiment, though. Something to shoot for in 2009, perhaps.)

Happy New Year's Eve to everyone. I am basking in the glow of the sun bouncing off the coffee pot and thrilled beyond words that I do not have to work until Monday. (I know I probably say that every day, but it bears repeating.)

Have a wonderful day.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this story!!! I believe that wild animals just KNOW which humans to choose when they are in need:) You ROCK CBMother!

Bayman's comment? Bwahahahahaha!

Happy New Year My Friend!! Is there any chance of us getting together Friday or Saturday for our first planning session??

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

BHE - We must be tuned in psychically based on the timing of our comments...Saturday may be a possibility for me. Where would you want to meet? E-mail me or text at some point. Happy New Year's Eve.

Cool Breeze said...

CBM is an excellent writer, as is her daughter, CBW.

My mom has that same love for all of natures gifts. I wish the two of them could meet.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Cool Breeze - you're too kind. CB Mother will likely be joining me for some of the ACDS basketball games later in January. BHE has met her. If you come to whatever blogfest we have, I'll make sure she comes to at least part of it.

Anonymous said...

I love this story. Yes, I believe that wild animals know which humans to seek out for their needs. We had a family of oppossums under our deck last spring. My son counted 8 of them. They would almost eat out of your hand. We fed them. They were so cute. They looked like ferrets.
My family has many rescue stories, and share cbmoms passion for animals.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Anyone can calmly deal with a big red bird gently pecking at a window.

The real question is, how good is CBM dealing with a bat that wants to use her hair as 'nesting material'? (just teasing)

As they always say, like mother, like daughter...

This must be why the fiddler crabs like to call CBW's home theirs...lucky guys!

Happy New Year to all...cyber hugs and kisses at Midnight!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Cats - Call me weird, but I love opossums. We have a huge one in our yard that I feed...I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Anonymous - She remains amazingly calm and would probably be able to tame that bat in a number of minutes, sort of like a "bat whisperer." In fact, I think we had one in the house one time and she managed to get the thing out unharmed. She has had close encounters with skunks, mice, racoons, turtles, you name it, she's handled them. Only rarely does she suffer consequences - such as a a shower of skunk spray.

Mental P Mama said...

I love this. We have a pair of cardinals, too. I think they would come in if I invited them. Happy New Year to all the CB Clan!

Unknown said...

What a beautiful story! Happy New Year! May it be filled with wonder!

Annie said...

wow..this is soo weird...I was thinking of you yesterday when I drove past a falling down barn..and thought "I have to take a photo of it for cbw"! Must go back today and do it!

love the story from your Mum

Happy New Year