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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


The "thud" against the house was a familiar sound. I knew at once what it meant and got up to investigate who it was this time.

Of course, the look she gave me was not reproachful. A bird, not even a beautiful female cardinal, isn't capable thereof (I think), although flying into a glass window would certainly be cause enough.

The first time I looked, she sprawled a little awkwardly - one wing was extended unnaturally - in the thin layer of snow on the deck. I feared the worst, that she was dead, or would die shortly. A few minutes later, it was clear she was better. She was perching more normally. That's when she gave me the eye.

I assumed in my guilt that she indeed could see me standing safe and warm behind the French doors. I also assumed, at least for one terrible moment, that she was blaming me for what had happened to her. Never mind that the living room extends out from the house such that there are windows on three sides, thus offering the illusion of a path through. Never mind that I had nothing to do with the building of the house. Never mind that the pathetic fallacy is indefensible. I am the proprietor. I'm responsible if she dies. I should have darkened my windows, or something.

That she - apparently - fully recovered (or at least was gone when next I looked) is a tribute to animals but not to humans. I can't imagine, for example, that Usain Bolt would survive as well as a humble little bird, either in body or in bravado, an impact with a transparent wall provided by the IOC at the end of his record-setting run. I can't imagine how the creatures of the natural world survive the countless insults we humans put in their way. When the tables are turned, say, by a tsunami or a northeaster or a plague of locusts, we give up the ghost and run crying to our God or our iPhone. But a mere cardinal bears my impudent windows, and lives to sing another day.

PS - she did live. I saw her the next day  in a tree just outside the window.

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