The day was gray as I stood at the sink, spring was tying to make a real appearance but the clouds were working against it. And then in the still bare shrubbery lining the back yard, the flutter of wings, the flash of scarlet, a cardinal. I paused to watch, wondering if I could catch a picture, but the bird soon dipped and hopped branch to branch before finally taking flight and making an exit.
The window over the kitchen sink, is there a more valued window in the entire house? Perhaps you enjoy the view from a large bay in your living room, or the shady opening into an old oak tree from a bedroom window. Or maybe your home boasts an actual sunroom. Windows all around with a wide view of your yard, a ravine, a lake, the world. But for me the views that have entranced me are the ones I’ve seen through the glass over my kitchen sink. While getting a glass of water or washing dishes, or once upon a time bathing a baby, the things I’ve seen from the kitchen window are an album of memories to me.
What sort of pictures were displayed there? Well, I’ve watched four different golden retrievers saunter in the sun, chase bunnies, and warn away birds high upon the telephone wire. And Kalahan, our first golden, well he viewed the yard as his kingdom and those kids in the wading pool his charges. So he would keep a watchful eye, giving a short bark if things got too rowdy. And then at nap time when the kids were inside for the afternoon, he’d step carefully into the pool for a relaxing cooling soak.
Once upon a time the view from the window had a wooden play set. For a while it had one of those baby holding bucket swings where the youngest were pushed and swung until graduating to a regular swing. The sandbox was covered by a platform called “the fort.” It was up high enough to feel almost like a tree house, and I watched summertime lunches enjoyed there.
Back yard parties, Fourth of July gatherings, children’ s birthday parties, water balloon fights, piñatas raining candy on laughing kids, snowmen and snowball fights all part of the movie of our family’s life as seen through the kitchen window.
And now the pool is gone, replaced by a patio that I fill with potted flowers in the summer and a glider bench for reading. The swing set has migrated to two different back yards now, and this year’s golden has the yard to himself. But I still watch the yard for stories.
Not long after the death of one of our dearest friends, I looked up from the dishes and thought I saw him tending my flowers in the fancy planter he had given me. Pinching the spent blossoms as he so often did when ever he stopped by. It was his habit, rather than knocking at the door, to just walk into the backyard and begin tweaking the garden when he arrived for a visit or dinner. This has happened several times to me. Seeing my old friend there among my flowers though the kitchen window is a pleasant sight.
Now a days it is a commonly held Facebook trope that a cardinal sighting is message of comfort from someone we’ve lost. It’s not one I have given much thought. But that day with Easter and spring both pushing us further into the surreal calendar that is 2020, I remember the trope and wonder. Is the cardinal my friend, one of my parents, or even one of those other three goldens, waving to me on the wings of the bird? A feathered mesenger letting me know that all will be well that this time of quarantine and virus will pass . It’s a puzzle for me as I stand by the sink on a gray day in April.
I’m just say’n.