Spring brings good news and great joy


 Although I might gripe and grouse about politics and the state of the world in general, I am a happy person.  I rely on the simple things in life for happiness.  We should all regularly give thanks for simple things such as our senses, our families, and of course the miraculous world which surrounds us daily.  When is the last time you thanked the Lord for your eyesight, your hearing, and so on?  When is the last time you laid on your back on your property and gazed up at the clouds, letting your imagination soar in identifying the various animate and inanimate objects which the cloud formations resemble?


Ah, and then there is spring:   A time when dormant plants spring back to life, when flowers bloom when birds sing an even happier song than usual.  Forget about the pollen – even though I know allergies can be miserable – and just bask in the splendor of the sights and sounds of what happens during the spring season.


The word spring replaced the old English word Lent back in the 14th Century.  Spring is defined as a season when latent plants spring up from the Earth.  Spring is also the season when we Christians recognize and give thanks for the resurrection of our savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. God’s world has many gifts that are free for the taking.  It’s as simple as just the acknowledgment of existing here on this wonderful planet. Stop, look, and listen . . . we are surrounded by the wonder of life.  As the old saying states, “stop and smell the roses.”


Speaking of the mystery and wonder of life, have you ever seen a yellow cardinal?  No, really such an animal exists.  I’ve only seen a picture in the newspaper of the rare bird.  A recent article told of the appearance of the yellow cardinal in Alabaster, Alabama.  Auburn University biology professor Geoffrey Hill stated that the off-color cardinal is an adult male in the same species as the common red cardinal, but carries a genetic mutation that caused it to have bright yellow feathers instead of the usual brilliant red.  “Yellow cardinals are a one-in-a-million situation,” Professor Hill stated.


And the story gets better.  Ms. Charlie Stephenson in Alabaster says the bird has been a punctual visitor to her backyard feeder.  “Every time we’ve looked for him, he’ll show up at least once a day.”  Professional photographer Jeremy Black’s pictures of the bird have made the rounds of news sites nationwide.


My story is not as colorful, but it is worthwhile.  Back in the spring of 2014, my wife heard a crashing sound coming from the master bathroom in our house.  She went to investigate.  What she discovered was an adult male cardinal – yes, cardinal red – “attacking” the stained glass window pane in the bathroom, which portrays a dove.  The intrepid cardinal would fly into the window, then upon bouncing off, he would flap his wings and hover just above the outside window ledge and aggressively peck at the stained-glass dove. This was not a one-time incident.  “Mr. Cardinal,” as he came to be known, returned to the window day after day.


My wife began to talk to Mr. Cardinal.  He would cock his head as if he was intently listening.  Mr. Cardinal became a pet of sorts.  Marsha bought a bird feeder and a bird bath.  The bird would regularly return to the window after he became “domesticated.”  Instead of aggressive pecking, he would peck gently.  Marsha would talk to him and he would flutter up and down and stay at the window sometimes for minutes at a time.  She even captured one of her social sessions with Mr. Cardinal using the video camera on her phone.


Mr. Cardinal was a permanent resident for two years before he disappeared.  Yes, his visits and communication remained constant for his entire residency in the Pope backyard.  Heck, I used to talk to him for minutes on end.  He would sing loudly with a cadence call.  I emulated his call and he would answer with some time the exact call, or he would modify his call, which I would return to him.  Mr. Cardinal brought my wife and me great joy for two years.


Stop, slow down and enjoy life.  Life’s greatest pleasures are sometimes right under our noses and we overlook them.  And as I stated early in this column, thank the Lord for your nose, your sense of smell, and all your other senses. Happy springtime, and Happy Easter, if you believe in that most-sacred Christian observance.


-Mark Pope

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