By Patricia Paris
I walked past the door and something caught my eye...a movement, something bright red, near my car in the driveway. Moving closer to the door, I could see a flurry of red wings as a Cardinal fought to keep his foothold at the base of my car window. He was hanging on for dear life with one foot as he leaned forward to get a better look in the mirror.
I moved closer. He spied me then and flew into the tree near the driveway. I tried to stay motionless as I watched the beautiful Cardinal hop from branch to branch. Then I heard him. I had at first believed he was fascinated with his reflection, a somewhat narcissist bird but now I knew. He was calling her, the gorgeous redhead he'd found in the mirror.
That bird was confused! I slowly opened the door and settled quietly on the porch, trying to sit perfectly still. I hoped to get a better look but my presence seemed to bother him and drove him across the street to my neighbor's tree. From his more distant perch, he hopped about and continued to call her.
I decided to wait him out and so I stayed. He must have decided I looked harmless enough because he was soon back, again hanging by one foot on the rim of my car window while he feverishly kissed and pecked away at the girl in the mirror.
But even true love has its limits. Unable to sustain his balance any longer, he again flew to the tree near the driveway and resumed his mating call. His chirps took on a more urgent tone. "Get over here, woman!" But the sexy redhead in the mirror paid no heed and never once peeked coyly around the mirror at her admiring suitor The Girl was playing hard to get!
He hopped on first one foot, then the other. He spun around and around. Finally he could stand it no longer. He'd had enough of her shenanigans and he would show her who was boss! Leaving his tree limb, he flew directly at the mirror and I've never seen such a flurry of whirring, flapping wings as he attempted to mate with the redhead in the mirror. Failing miserably, he returned to his tree perch where, unabashed, he resumed his mating call as the girl of his dreams continued playing hard to get.
I phoned Aunt Mildred. "You not gonna believe this. There's a Cardinal on my car and he won't budge."
"What do you mean. Cardinal? The religious kind?"
I couldn't suppress my laughter. "Not a Catholic! A redbird! And he's convinced his sweetheart lives in the mirror. This is the mating season, Aunt Mildred. He thinks his reflection is another bird, a female. He's trying to mate with her."
"He's trying to mate with her, or, rather, with his reflection. I need to run some errands so his little girlfriend's going with me to the mall. I'm hoping while she's away, he'll find another pretty girl and forget all about this one."
As I backed out of the driveway, I could see the Cardinal hopping from branch to branch. He was looking anxious. I felt almost guilty taking her away.
After running errands and dawdling for an hour or so at the mall, I headed toward home, thinking about the cardinal and wondering if he had found himself a new girl, one that would appreciate him.
I had misjudged the ardent suitor. As soon as I pulled into the driveway, I spotted a flash of red cruising in rather low. I don't know where he had been but he was back and in hot pursuit. No sooner had I carried my packages inside when I spotted him back at the mirror. She had finally come to her senses and returned to him! Once again, he was all over the mirror, sometimes right side up, sometimes upside down, in another desperate attempt to win her over. Shamelessly, she taunted him by pecking BACK and then refusing any further advances.
The next morning, a dejected Cardinal sat on the tree limb but he no longer did his little dance. Mostly he was quiet. I heard him call to her a couple of times but his chirp had taken on a different tone. I could almost hear him saying, "I really cared about you, you know. But. it's probably better this way. you're just a tease." He cocked his head, "You know, we could have had a great life if you hadn't been such a snooty redhead."
The next day Aunt Mildred phoned. "You still got that crazy bird over there?"
"I think he's gone. I haven't seen him all day."
"Well, good riddance to him!" She lowered her voice, "I wouldn't want such as 'that' going on with my car."
Patricia Parispatriciaparis@gmail.comMember Patricia shares her lifelong love of writing with readers everywhere as she delivers her unique, tongue-in-cheek style in her southern-style newspaper column, "Patricia's Porch Talk" in various newspapers across the United States. Managing Editor of JPS Features (2006-2007), a Chattanooga-based website for writers. Currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Chattanooga Writers Guild, her third term as an office.