The kids and I watched as cardinals built a nest in the bush right outside our kitchen window.
We squealed with delight when we saw 3 perfect eggs appear one day.
We roiled with anger when a snake slithered up the branches after those eggs-- and we chased him off with a stick.
We saluted the parents who tended and tended and tended to the three perfect babies that hatched from those eggs. Thin skin, bulging eyes, little tufts of feathers-- they were cute in the most vulnerable, pathetic of ways.
They waited, mouths open, for Mom or Dad to drop in a morsel. After only a few days, the brownish-gray fledglings were ready for their big moment.
They hopped from branch to branch, tentatively testing those wings. Ever solicitous, Mom and Dad Cardinal watched from outside, Jake and Molly inside-- Molly's arm draped around Jake's back.
I stood behind, watching my no-so-small ones watch the smaller ones. In a matter of moments, all three birds took flight. It wasn't graceful, but it worked.
Jake turned to Molly and said, "They just grow up so fast."