On internet friends and cardinals and Nanny

For one thing, hilarious text exchanges with good friends are really hard to beat. That's all on that subject, but if you haven't flown back and forth with a pal, emojis and honesty flying left and right, you really should try it prontissimo. 

As y'all might know by now, I have taken a number of writing classes and through them have made a number of friends. These many women and two men (hear, hear Freddie and Adam) have enriched my life in so many ways. Anyone who doubts the veracity of relationships forged online should pause and reconsider. While some are wholly fake, disappointing, or otherwise no good and totally ephemeral, others are the brightest of surprises, the happiest of new weights securing us to life and world.

Perhaps because writing is an artistic craft, a number of the folks I've met are not only tremendous wordsmiths but also talented photographers. I feel lucky every day to have in my home prints by Sophia and Eliza who graciously sent me high res jpegs of their work. Imagine the near impossibility of knowing these women, from Australia and Africa, before the internet. Imagine the chance even with that of meeting, of becoming friendly, of supporting each other's work, of sharing talent and beauty with someone you might never meet in person.

One writer-photographer, Terri, who captures spectacular scenes from nature once mentioned a lovely thing she'd heard about cardinals: that they're messengers from loved ones who've died, come to visit, offer some peace and love, or serve as a reminder of someone we miss.

Nanny always loved watching the birds at her window feeders. When Nanny became largely chair bound, Mom hung a feeder directly in her line of sight. As do most of us, she'd curse the squirrels and their Houdini methods of gluttony. But mostly she'd enjoy the simple act of watching birds come to feed. She liked cardinals' flashy red coat. I wonder if the scarlet hue reminded her of the lipstick and nail polish she always wore as a younger woman.

I imagine the way she watched the birds is the same way she used to watch her children and grandchildren eat the food she made them- simple, delicious food that never seemed to run out.

A few years ago, a copper birdfeeder caught my eye, and on a whim, I bought it. It boasts no fancy design or aesthetic. It just seemed sturdy, and I like copper. I hung it from the sugar maple in our old back yard, from a branch I could see from pretty much every window on the back of our house. And I came to relish every single visitor, though I did, on occasion, curse the squirrels.

We now have two birdfeeders and and an even greater variety of winged visitors to them. We also have more capable squirrels. They are eating me out of house and home, and recently, Jack and I greased the pole on which one of our feeders hangs. We waited for hours to watch a squirrel be foiled by our plot, but to no avail; the grease didn't slow those buggers at all.

In any case, I see cardinals every week, and I am certain that each is Nanny. Or at least that each is a reminder to think of Nanny and some bit of wisdom or cooking tip or grace that she shared with me before she died.