Elaina showed me the nest, positioned for optimum safety, in the bush that separated our two homes. She pointed out how the male and female cardinals—the parents, she emphasized—were diligent in protecting their young and never strayed too far from the small alleyway that partitioned our properties.
I could hear the cries of the baby cardinals. Each night I watched from my back patio as "the parents" flew back and forth from lawn to bush, always with some morsel of food for their offspring. Elaina would watch me watching the cardinals. She watched from her sun room that looked into my backyard, peering from behind the California shutters that gave the traditional-looking house a contemporary veneer. I’m not sure if she knew I knew she was watching.
She arrived in Niagara Falls one October from Beslan, just as the autumn colors began their final performance of the year. Your winter is coming quickly upon you, she would say each morning as I left for work. She was always up, no matter what time I left in the morning, sitting on her front landing, always smoothing her dark black hair, a yellow ceramic coffee mug that seemed to… Read more »