Monday, November 30, 2015

Red Birds on a Gray Day

When the goldfinches have dulled and most of our birds are wearing muted winter coats, the Northern Cardinal sports the brightest color in the forest.  While the males are truly brilliant, the females are lovely as well.  My mother never called them "cardinals."  To her they were always "red birds."  I was in fifth grade when I learned the real name of the red bird.

We are having rain, fog, and mist here in the mountains.  Almost everything seems the same shade of gray.  But when our native Northern Cardinals appear, they brighten up the forest and warm our hearts.

They sit in the trees in the early morning and late afternoon, waiting to dine at our feeders.
The male has a beautiful color that can only be described as "cardinal red."
This angle does not show his topknot.

 The females are not as brightly colored.  Some of them even appear gray.
But they are still lovely birds.

On rainy winter days I always think of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "The Rainy Day"
And it's on my mind today.
Here is part of it:

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

I have always loved poetry.  I memorized tons of poems when I was a child and can still recite most of them.  My Kindle is packed with anthologies and complete works of many poets.  I love the fact that I can carry the works of so many great poets in such a tiny convenient space.  I often pull them up and read them again and again.  And I have audible books with some contemporary poets reading their own work.  Oh, so lovely.  Often I sit on the deck watching the birds and listening to poetry readings.  So peaceful.

Hope you have a good week.  Make a promise to yourself that you will not let the season turn you into a shrew.  For Christians the countdown to Christmas has begun.  For Jews, Hanukkah begins next Sunday at sundown.  This should be a season of reflection and peace.  Don't let it become chaos and despair.


Anonymous said...

After several days of brilliant sunshine and endless blue skies, we are back to rainy, gray weather. The colors of the Cardinal are so lovely, even just looking at a photo brightens my day. Love reading this poem. Perfect timing on this dark and dreary day.

KB said...

I love your poem - it is perfect for a rainy day when one's spirit is feeling low. And those cardinals are incredible. We don't have them here but I remember them from my childhood in the east.

Thank you for the reminder about the season and our spirits. I always find it to be a very difficult season - but I will try to find the best in it and try not to let the "usual things" make me upset.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

You're so right about the cardinals! The verse is perfect! Like you I love poetry. My Mom was a librarian, and I now have her books with the ones she loved in them -- Like some of the "lost poems" they're treasures. Do kids today memorize such things?

Ms. A said...

Lovely cardinal shots! They show up quite well with the gray background.

Cheryl said...

I shall call the Cardinal red birds......I think that is so charming.

They are indeed beautiful.....while the male red bird stands out in the crowd, the female is so soft looking and pretty.

I to read poetry and can recite many to this day. Mine veer more to the romantics....Browning, Keats, and Shelley.
I love the verse by Longfellow, it is so apt.....looking out of my window it is dull and drear.

A beautiful reminder about the season, and indeed a time for reflection.

Have a wonderful week....enjoy your 'Red Birds '

troutbirder said...

Good seasonal advice, Carolyn. Thanks and we love our two regular Cardinal families too...:)

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

Your cardinal photos are awesome. How exciting to see these beautiful red birds on a dark, rainy day.

Nance said...

Thank you for this beautiful and thoughtful post. It was what I needed--in many ways--today.

Vicki Lane said...

I too still remember much of the poetry I memorized in high school. I love the older poets -- even those considered corny by today's standards -- Kipling, for example. But there are a number of contemporary poets that I enjoy -- Kathryn Stripling Byer for one. I'm also a fan of Rexroth's translations of Japanese and Chinese poetry. But somehow I never thought to put some poetry on my Kindle -- what a good idea!

Mary Lee said...

There are all kinds of lovely "meanings" when a cardinal attracts your attention. I like the one that says it energizes the romance in your life. (Or if you're single, start looking for Mr or Mz Right.)

You're so right about everything being grey. This is not something I should be writing about, but yesterday I went to buy some new bras from a specialty bra shop and she sales person brought out two different bras, both comfortable, yet both grey. As she rang them up for me, she said to tell my husband that she working on 50 Shades of Grey for him. Yikes!

Lowcarb team member said...

Well I think 'red birds' just describes them brilliantly! Thank you for sharing your lovely photo's.
I enjoyed the poem too.
I don't own a kindle but many friends often say they wouldn't be without theirs ...

I hope you have a Happy December, and enjoy this special season.

All the best Jan

Ginnie said...

I love the cardinals and the fact that once you've seen the colorful male you can be sure that the more subdued female is nearby. I actually have three pairs that visit me almost daily.
I do remember that poem and, of course, the much quoted line "into each life some rain must fall" but I did not know it was by Longfellow. Thanks.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Robin - This poem come to mind during rainy winter days. Summer rain somehow seems refreshing but winter rain seems much more dreary.

KB - I think you take things in stride as much as anyone I know

Kim - I'm not sure they still memorize. My own kids did because we made it a family thing.

Ms A - The Cardinals do indeed brighten up the dreariest day.

Cheryl - I love the romantic poets as well.

Troutbirder - This is the first place we've lived where the cardinals nested near us. We do enjoy them all year.

Brenda Kay - When I think of poetry, I always think of our NC poets. Like you.

Nance - glad the post was timely for you

Vicki - I still love James Whitcomb Riley and it doesn't get any cornier and sing-songy that his poems.

Mary Lee - You always make me laugh. Thanks

Jan - I have three Kindles, two readers and a tablet. I bought a new reader because my original Kindle is so old but by golly, it still works.

Ginnie - I'm not sure the generations following us love poetry as much as we do.