I’m usually in my office by four each morning. I’ve never slept much, and I don’t know if my early rising habit is an effect of my accident or my age. Or both. The dog gets up after I do, and when he wakes, he wants to go outside. I let him out, scratch the bunny who lives on the porch and watch the dog for a minute. All while coffee brews.

The back door looks out to the backyard and my shop. The shop is a one-story building with a gable that overlooks the yard and the pool and the bird feeders. Most spring and summer mornings, there’s a bird atop the shop ridge. Maybe it’s a mocking bird – they hide out in every bush around the yard – or a cardinal or a cooing dove, assuring the world that all is good. 

There’s a cardinal there this morning, staking out his territory and puffing his chest in full song, singing his best version of I’m A Lonely Man Who Needs A Woman, not knowing – or not caring – that humans have determined that there is no such thing as male and female. I’m no ornithologist, but if my observations are accurate, the whole shebang of male and female is just about all cardinals think about. That and sunflower seeds. 

The dog, a ninety-pound sheepdog, wanders under the gable to do his thing, and the bird doesn’t care a whit. I’m not even sure he notices. But me? If I so much as poke one foot out the door, the cardinal stops singing and flies away, probably to chew me out from the top branch of a loblolly pine.

I wonder why? What’s the difference to the cardinal between the shaggy four-legged beast and the shaggy biped?