On the way to "the big city" where I go a few times a year for real shopping, or to one of the bigger towns in between here and there, where I occasionally go for groceries or to meet my sister halfway, there is a choice of roads to take. Most people I know take the main, well-paved highway. I seldom choose that. I almost always choose the back road, the "cardinal road." It's a "paved" road most of the way, if you don't count the potholes big enough to lose your entire truck in this time of year, and a few stretches where either it isn't paved for some unknown reason, or the paving has worn away to dirt. But it's a road that has a lot of scrubby brush and taller bushes along the way, on both sides of the road. It's a perfect haven for cardinals, and so many times I've seen them dipping and bobbing across the road, as they do, from one pile of brush to another. I don't always see them, but have often enough in the past that I now always take that road when I'm by myself to look for them. I met my sister for dinner last night, and took the road both going there and coming home, looking for cardinals.
I didn't see any, but I wasn't disappointed. I got a good look at a huge turkey vulture feasting unabashedly on a deer carcass on the side of the road. On my way past him, he flew up and off a little ways. On my way home, he never moved, and just gave me the stink eye as I passed by. I got a good look at him. A beautifully ugly creature.
I also lost count of the number of young deer that leapfrogged each other across the road in the waning light of day. Skittish beauties, all of them. The fields are brown, and silent, still with patches of snow here and there that will be gone by the end of this week. The sunset was truly a wonder, pale pink at first under the edge of leftover white puffed up clouds, then a riot of oranges and deep pinks, finally red and fiery, it sank, and left the sky watercolored and soft. It looked more like a summer sunset than a spring one, and belied the cold that the air still holds.
I think looking for cardinals is a worthwhile pursuit, even when you don't see any. Going that road doesn't really take any longer than going the main road, but it is a conscious choice I had to make at that junction, to turn left and brave the potholes and perhaps see a bright flash of red, or to just continue on the paved road through towns, past houses aplenty, without much hope of seeing anything out of the ordinary. My frequent choice to pursue the cardinals makes me realize that it is similar to the way I've tried to live my life the past year or two - a metaphor in the making.
I try to find the good in every day, even when it most seems like it is not there. Work is overwhelmingly frustrating much of the time, there are always family issues of one sort or another, it seems, and there is never enough money or time to do what needs to be done. If it isn't one thing, it is ALWAYS another. But... that is where LOOKING for the good, searching for those "cardinals," has made the most difference in my life. I have found that so much of the time, for me, it is about attitude, and perspective and choosing to count my blessings, like that of seeing a brilliant flash of red streak across the road in front of me, instead of dwelling on the negative, or, even just "taking the main road" without thought. Live with intention? Seek out the bits of flash in your day, or your life. Who knows. Maybe all you'll see is a really ugly Turkey Vulture, feasting on a dead deer. Or maybe, you'll get lucky, and see a cardinal or two, or five or six, in a scarlet flash across the road. Seeing a cardinal, on an otherwise ordinary day, always makes the day become extraordinary, I think.