Sparky The Cardinal

AT THE CHURCH O THE PINES, famed soloist Sparky the Cardinal has begun to sing his favorite hymns. After a long winter of gentle ‘chips’ from the forest thickets, and sensing a change in daylight hours or the angle of the sun, he once more dazzles us with vocal calisthenics and time-honored melodies. His tone and timbre are unmatched—until those May days when the Wood Thrush once more returns to the fold.

Even after The Blizzard, Sparky is undeterred, and for the rest of our humble congregation it is a fine thing to hear his voice once more ringing from the rafters. It is a sign that yes, many things are still right with the world, and music still holds its place in our hearts.

There was a winter day some years ago when a vandal came to our little church, and strenuously attempted to end Spark’s days. The Shrike—a magnificent little predator but of ill humor and malevolent intent—came to take Sparky’s life. The parson/caretaker heard a thumping at the cabin door, and in opening it found blood in the snow, and Sparky pinned beneath his attacker.
Respecting the Shrike’s need to acquire sustenance on a cold day, but loving Sparky more, I intervened. With a bit of care Sparky recovered, and lives to this day in the thick vine climbing up the cabin’s north wall. The entire story is recounted in the essay, ‘Sparky’s Close Call,’ in my next book.

For now, on a bright and beautiful February day, we are simply glad to see red feathers flashing through the forest. And to hear sacred and timeless hymns still echoing in our little green chapel. Good Sabbath to all!

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