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Several days have passed since the gray squirrel attacked the cardinal in her nest, from which both tumbled and momentarily disappeared. After an interval, the cardinal circled the nest, then returned to its depths, unusual because such violation precipitates abandonment and search for a safer sight for building another nest.

A strange stillness settled over the area of the nest, hidden by thick foliage of the viburnum. Even the winds were still, disallowing a peak at the cardinal. And there was no sign of the protective mate, occasionally feeding her. Maybe both were gone.

Then, one evening the pair was back, frolicking around the nest like aging grandparents. Mesmerized, I sat back in my study chair and gaped until they flew off. Something was happening.  

Two more days passed. Again, more stillness shrouded the area of the nest and weighted my spirit. Perhaps the pair did settle elsewhere. To determine this eventuality, I asked a friend to photo the nest. The findings: in the empty nest were three ivory eggs speckled with brown and gray.

As I write this blog, a gentle breeze stirs and I see the mother’s dark tail feathers laying over the side of the nest. If all goes well, three hatchlings will screech for gnats and pre-digested seeds until developed sufficiently to leave the nest—in about one week. I’m in good company.

Outside my study window, the morning sun casts patterns of pointed leaves upon those beneath them and prickle-shades the trunks of the summer snowflake viburnum. In one of the niches still broods the cardinal in her twiggy nest. It’s been days of stillness, at times, her feathered head moving from side to side with the regularity of an oscillator. With her, I watch and wait for new life.

Whoops! Something shakes one of the trunks, its intrusion feels violent. Among the leaves and spent blossoms, a gray squirrel flickers up the trunk toward the nest. Within the cover of more leaves blur two forms: the squirrel and the cardinal, jettisoned into the air and disappear—no evidence of their remains on the mulched mound beneath the shrub.

I wait for I know not what.

In the next moment, reappears the cardinal flying toward the shrub, until repositioning herself atop the nest. The quiet resumes.

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