Back to Nature (Published on - Dec. 15, 2005)
Little red visitor says Christmas
Photo by Karen Mitchell Tremmel
A crimson-colored cardinal: An unexpected guest for dinner.
It’s difficult to find a parking spot at the Super Store and once there the checkout line is long. Shoppers are bustling to and fro trying to find just the right gifts for their list of names.

“Now, Marta sent us over a cake last year and Brian a box of candy. The Smiths, remember, came over on Christmas day with a basket of marmalade and biscuits and don’t forget Bob and Mary, they need a little something special this year.”

Every aisle is filled with chatter.

“Is this good enough for Jim? Do you think it will fit him?”

“Shoot, you remember what Ellen got me last year … a pair of purple stretchy magic gloves. She didn’t give that a minute of her time or thought and there … you remember … we went everywhere trying to find her that pink sweater. No way, girlfriend … all she’s gettin’ from me is socks this year.”

I have to smile. Feeling in a foreign world I head toward this season’s greeting cards. There’s cards with buff bodies dressed in Santa suits, snowy towns with cross peaked steeples, dogs with bulging eyes, funky reindeers and gold glittered angels.

I’m looking for something simple … perhaps an illustration of a cardinal or chickadee. At the very least something with nature but there is nothing to be found. I turn to my mother-in-law and best friend, “Perhaps I should just go home and make my own cards.” She smiled and agreed, we’d probably find something more suitable.

It’s misting rain outside. A gray squirrel is working his way up the tree in an attempt to access the feeder, when unexpectedly a bright, crimson cardinal appears as if a sudden splash of sunshine in the middle of a gray day … a song when all was previously silent. Quickly I reach for my camera and while balancing my elbow upon the top of my computer monitor I attempt to capture the moment … an unexpected gift.

Lifting his prominent crest, the male cardinal turns his black face toward me and stares, as if he was appearing on stage and aware of this photo opportunity. He takes a moment to show off his “good side” and then continues to partake of the offerings at the feeder. I take a deep breath and there it is … the image I’d been searching for while in the Super Store. The cardinal, a promise of hope and cheer, a splash of crimson on a wintry day, the classic symbol of the season to share with you while back to nature.

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