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  • Writer's pictureRogene "Jeannie" McPherson, Country Notebook

And then there were two

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

Whether or not cardinals mate for life or just a few seasons, they are a symbol of caring for one another as Valentine's Day approaches. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

Country Notebook by Rogene "Jeanne" McPherson

God knew all about the birds and the bees when he asked Noah to bring in two of every kind in preparation for the big flood and the death of earth-bound creatures. Actually the title might be better if I said, “And then there were three.” After de-boarding the boat, the world’s population of animals and humans grew in number rather quickly

Fear not, this is not a story of reproduction. Rather, it is a story about what I call redbird cardinals. Also known as the northern cardinal, they populate large areas of the United States, especially east of the Rocky Mountains. Again, according to plan, God made these creatures to bond and work together to raise a family. I’ve been told they mate for life, but an interesting story notably written for the magazine, Birds and Blooms, says otherwise. They do mate, but mostly for several seasons rather than life.

I like the first version better. I see them frequently together around the farm, year-round by the way, usually flying in the same vicinity. They may not be eating berries from the same bush, but when spotting the female or male, it won’t be long before the opposite sex is seen nearby.

The female is not as showy as the beautiful red feathers of the male, but this is often the rule of the animal kingdom so that the male is spotted first and will attempt to ward off predators. I’ve seen a pair up-close and believe these to be accurate behaviors.

A female flew into an open garage door and then could not get out. The male spotted his mate through a window and appeared to be willing to injure himself by flying into the glass multiple times trying to get to his mate. As I recall, I opened the rest of the garage doors and the female found her way out, uniting with the male by flying off together into the woods.

What a love story for the month of February, not just between birds, bird-lovers, or human lovers, but also friends. I particularly like to mail valentine cards to my single friends. It can be a day to value those around me by describing the joy of their friendship. A card from more than 40 years ago reminds me how much we need each other, lovers or not. It’s of Snoopy from the Charlie Brown cartoon. He is standing by a mailbox with cards flowing out of the box and onto the ground. Snoopy says, “There is no such thing as too many valentines.”

As a school child, I made simple Valentine’s Day boxes so I would have a container to keep the inexpensive cards given to all classmates. No hurt feelings, but an hour or so celebration, probably involving cookies or something sweet. I still have several of the boxes my sons and I crafted together. Paint, fabric, glue, and rick-rack around the opening are a few creative memories we share.

I worked in a school district that allowed florists to deliver arrangements to the high school. It not only disrupted the day’s learning, but I can only imagine the number of tears shed by those not receiving a lovely bouquet. Someone apparently came up with how to profit from this holiday, but the real story is that a man named Valentine was martyred for his faith in God.

Would someone help me understand how a martyred man came to be recognized through candy, flowers, hearts, and kisses? Okay, maybe enough sarcasm, but may I remind readers we are all in the boat together? Wouldn’t it be nice to share a simple act of friendship with someone who doesn’t need a big cardboard heart filled with chocolate, but a few minutes of your time. Two friends is a nice number for caring. I also think the redbird cardinals are correct. Take care of each other.

Rogene “Jeanne” McPherson is a writer who lives outside of Centerville. She recently published a book about her experiences entitled Posts from the Country, Adventures in Rural Living. It is available online in both virtual and printed editions. Copies are on the shelves at all Linn County libraries.

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