The Cardinal

Here in New England we are having a 48-hour mini-storm, complete with ice, sleet and snow. I recently discovered that walking on icy roads, though adventurous, is not always the best idea (see my previous post for my most recent perilous expedition). So, here I am now staying inside enjoying my hibernation. With my guardian-polar-bear-dog Skadi on mostly high alert, and my cozy wood stove, I am safe and warm.

A day in the life of Skadi, a snowstorm, and a couch

The weather is always interesting, which is one of the reasons why I love living out here. Several days ago it had warmed up to a balmy 43 degrees which turned the snow to slush and melted all of my beautiful window icicles. Everything is frozen again, but for a brief time I smelled the coming of Spring. Last night it was back down to a seasonal 19 degrees. Brrrrrrr!

Frozen-slippery-cold outside, and our firewood is almost all gone, but I still love Winter.

Several days before the storm while I was taking my walk, I found myself deep in thought; haunted reflections of my past and stressful concerns for my future ambushed all focus and I was unable to think of anything else. Immersed in a labyrinth of contemplation, I walked like I was asleep, my gaze turned inward, oblivious to everything around me.

Step, step, step…the sound of my feet hypnotized me as they hit the rough pavement.

Step, step, step…”You are going deeper and deeper, deeper and deeper” they sang

Step, step, step… I was a captive to my thoughts, unable to escape the spirals of my mind; remembering, pondering, questioning, worrying, thinking, thinking, thinking.

Step, step, step… side-tracked from one corridor to the next, I explored all the reasons why.

Step, step, step…searching hidden corners I considered every possibility.

Step, step, step…my mind is filled with corridors, spirals, and corners.

Step, step, step…I no longer remembered what I had originally been thinking about in the first place.

Step, step, step…sometimes it’s exhausting being in my head.

Photo by Skyler Ewing on Pexels.com

Out of nowhere, a beautiful streak of red cardinal flew swiftly across my path and into the trees, startling me from the deep caverns of myself and back into the vibrant presence of my surroundings. He, with his brilliant red plumage, darted by so fast that I didn’t even have a chance to formally greet him.

Photo by Skyler Ewing on Pexels.com

Females are a tan color, with an orange beak, while males are red, with a matching red beak.

If you are curious, or maybe a little superstitious like myself, you may already know that cardinals foretell good luck, most likely because seeing them is always a cheerful sight. Some people believe when meeting up with a cardinal, they are being visited from someone dear who has passed away. Because cardinals mate for life, with both recognized as caring parents, they are natural representatives for love and devotion, two of my favorite values. These loyal cardinals are also known for their lively songs, sometimes performing duets with a list of over a dozen romantic hits.

All of these fun facts rose quickly to the surface of my memories, but the main tidings I understood from this delightful messenger’s sudden appearance were unmistakably clear:

“Stop thinking, stop trying to make sense of everything, let go of needing answers, accept uncertainty, move forward, and don’t look back.”

In that fleeting speck of time, I did exactly that. I stopped thinking.

You may consider this to be a small thing, but I have been working towards this moment for years. Today a line was drawn in the snow, and the bright flash of my red-feathered friend ushered me unceremoniously over to the other side. To stop thinking means to remove the well-worn bookmark, creased and tattered from constant use, out from the recesses of my history book. I am ready to turn the page and begin the manuscript for my newest chapter.

Leaving the labyrinth of my mind means liberation from my past, with a new hope for the future.

*See if you can find the camouflaged snowman*

And so unchained at last from the endless loop of my thoughts, I was free to enjoy the rest of my walk, this time completely aware of my surroundings (which is actually a much safer way to travel) and awake to whatever came next…

…which, strangely enough, happened to be several versions of snow-people, my loud talking crow friends, and a somewhat muddy white chicken crossing the road.

A lot can happen on a 3 mile walk!

It’s a little blurry, but here it is!

Citizens of the snow

Here are a few of my crow-friends, eating the roasted-unsalted peanuts I brought for them as a treat.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

I have no answer for you, I told you, I stopped thinking.

In Winter Peace, Raven

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