I heard the sonorous chirp of what almost sounded like a cardinal, but somewhat off, truncated. It was as if the familiar (to me) sound loop of the male cardinal were skewed, off a few notes. No, more like it was a tape of a male cardinal being played backward, abbreviated. Picture the wind-up bird of Haruki Murakami fame being wound down or rewound.
I looked up.
High in the honey locust tree (I think it was), shading me if I were to stand under its foliage, was, yes, a male cardinal.
The sight shocked me, arrested me.
I was expecting to see a different bird, something unexpected.
But the cardinal himself stopped me, gave me pause as he went through his routine, which I had mistakenly taken to be a tad uncardinalish.
I watched him. And listened.
I wanted to do my mockingbird thing and imitate a typical cardinal song, to see if it would answer my call. (Was the perceived modified male cardinal song modified as some sort of mating ritual?)
I just stopped and listened.
I wanted to bow or make the sign of the cross through the air.
I did not.
But I was grateful enough to do either.