A Cardinal In A Jade Tree

The other day I was taking photos of the bits of fall decor around my desk. I happened to turn toward the patio doors. And there was the hummingbird.

I had my camera around my neck. But…I had the wrong lens.

I quickly went to the shelf and changed lenses. But it was too late. The hummingbird was gone.

I can’t tell you how many times a day I look out there for that hummingbird. But it’s always the wrong timing for me. I might see one every 4-5 days. But I have yet to get a photo.

And soon they will be gone for the season.

Female cardinal in my jade tree

But I do have cardinals and butterflies to take photos of.

Here is a cardinal in a jade tree.

I began humming “a partridge in a pear tree” when I first saw her there.

Female cardinal in my jade tree

This female cardinal looks pretty young. She has taken a liking to my Jade tree in the container.

It is next to the water source, which is just a plant saucer, and this draws her in often throughout the day.

Female cardinal at the bird bath

See her funky spiky feathers? That’s how I know it’s the same female cardinal.

I am inside the patio doors taking these photos because she bolts when I open the door.

Female cardinal bathing

Then she will bathe. In the above photo, it’s as if she’s saying: “Can’t a lady get any privacy around here?”

By the way, it’s so important to have a rock in your water source for critters to perch on. This flat rock serves the purpose well.

I often see wasps and other winged creatures sunning on the rock or drinking from the water.

A rock gives them a place to land safely (think airplanes on a strip of land).

Female cardinal bathing

I guess if I had it to do over, I might have been a nature photographer. I’d take long solitary trips to various places and photograph the beauty around me. Sounds wonderfully exotic.

But, I tell myself, I am actually doing all that in a way. I’m just not taking solitary trips around the world. And I’m not taking photos of animals out in the wild.

I’m taking photos of creatures right on my patio though.

Not as exotic. No. But satisfying enough for me.

Butterfly on sedum autumn joy

The photographs I take aren’t as varied, but I’ve never been much of a traveler anyway.

And I still find a lot of nature inside my little fenced-in patio space.

You have to be patient. You have to look often. But there is a lot of nature and nature’s critters right smack in the middle of the city.

Yellow rose on my patio

I don’t have many flowers blooming on the patio now. Most of the plants are bidding adieu. Waving goodbye. See you later, alligator.

But next spring I will again see the perennials that are tough enough to make it through the winter. Like the sedums and succulents.

The mutant-seemingly-on-steroids purple morning glories.

The lemon balm and mint.

The yellow rose and ornamental grass.

The annuals will die and I will have to replenish them next spring. That’s okay. The annuals pack a lot of punch (and blooms) into the months of summer.

I just now had to stop and rush to the patio doors to get a shot of a yellow butterfly flying around the morning glories. This is what I do. Stop everything and rush to the patio doors when I see movement out there.

Country road

About once a year or so I give myself the gift of driving out into the countryside and taking photos along the way.

I need to do that more often. Charlie will just have to go with me I guess.

He’s waking up from a nap.

Charlie in his bed

It is a solitary life, which fits my personality. Just me and Charlie boy. Living our lives in the quiet little place we have carved out for ourselves.

It’s not for everyone, this life I live. But it suits me just fine.

If you could turn back the hands of time and do something else, what do you think you would want to do with your life?



  1. I love the peaceful photos. We don’t get cardinals here. I’ve always loved them. When I put up the feeders we get hundreds of hummingbirds fighting over the feeders. Later in the year when leaves are falling I often find their tiny nests nestled into crooks or Ys in my hugh ancient apricot tree.
    I too enjoy my own company. My husband has Alzheimer’s so even with him here I’m really pretty much alone. My little dog and my calico cat are as much company as I need.
    I haven’t been taking photos. I watch a perky squirrel with her big fluffy tail and quite ring neck doves come to my yard morning and evening. I love their soft cooing. At sunset a crowd of crows come to a tall cottonwood tree. My husband will often come to enjoy their antics for a few minutes. We watch then gently glide on the soft evening breezes. Then they disappear into the leaves of that large ancient tree.
    As the birds settle in for the evening My husband disappears back into his silent world and usually he doesn’t recognise me. Once he’s settled in bed my 5 young kittens keep me entertained with their playful antics.

  2. I love your world you create for yourself Brenda. It is a cozy world full of love and peace fullness… which is why I keep returning to look into your world daily. Your posts often settle me and give me peace. You

  3. I love your photos of nature, as well. We seem to be of similar minds. I too, couldn’t resist taking pictures of a snail in my little garden the other day. The lizards, snails, butterflies, dragonflies, and the occasional bird, visiting this little habitat in the city. Just love nature!
    I would have loved to work with animals in some capacity. Maybe a conservationist.

  4. Thanks so much for the tip about putting a flat stone in a birdbath. Ours is outside the kitchen window, so I am often treated to seeing birds stop by for a bath or a drink. Since our birdbath is a scooped-out style, the tiny birds are able to creep down to the water along the sides when the water is low but I think that flat stone would be a great help when the bath is filled to the top. TFS!

  5. I too lead a fairly solitary life since my beloved husband died this past January. It’s a different kind of solitary now, but I always have been an introvert and don’t mind my own company.
    Your young cardinal lady is pretty. How good of you to provide fresh water and a beautiful setting for her and the other creatures.
    I think I would have liked to study Asian art and literature, subjects I dearly love and study on my own. I remember the book by Jos.Campbell about following your bliss. That would have been mine.
    Love your little Charlie and sending best wishes to you and him.

  6. Loving the photos…..so peaceful. I try to have my morning coffee on the deck with my furbaby and watch all the birds and squirrels……totally love it when the geese fly over. You are a very talented writer.

  7. Love all your photos .
    And I love your quiet life .
    I am leading a very quiet life now just my husband and I both retired and our precious terrier Mallory and our Maine coon kitty Kramer.
    It is a peaceful life and very fulfilling for us now that we are older .We have lived all over the US with my husband’s healthcare career and have settled in the Cumberland mountains of Tennessee where I am from .
    It is beautiful here and lots of nature to enjoy .
    Ours is a peaceful life .
    Have an awesome weekend you and Charlie both and keep those photos coming for us to enjoy .
    Peace !

    1. Oh my, how I’d love a Maine Coon kitty! I once had a cat, a rescue, that I’m pretty sure was part Maine Coon. Smartest and most loving cat I ever had.

  8. In other years when I had flower beds full of zinnias, it often seemed like certain hummingbirds came at around (not exactly) the same time of day.
    when one little hummingbird decided the zinnias were all his, he would spend all day either sipping from the zinnias or perched in nearby trees so he could come and try to chase away any other hummingbirds.
    I love your cardinal picture. Cardinals are such fun birds to watch. They seem to keep with their family groups a lot of the time.

    1. The cardinals are fun to watch. I like to watch how their feathers change as they grow older too.

    1. I’ve had a butterfly bush. But not in a container. I’ll have to see if it grows too large for a container. But then, I have a tree in a container! So it’s probably fine.

  9. Brenda, get a hummingbird feeder and they will come. you can easily make your own food for them and they are mesmerizing to watch. They are attracted to red flowers and especially buttery bush which comes back every year. They remember where fresh good food is, which I find truly amazing. Hope you will get a feeder for them and I guarantee you will have takers, especially with all your beautiful plants. the Domino Sugar site will give you the best recipe for food. Hope you go for it. My hummers are only here in late spring to late September as long as the weather is still warm. Good Luck.

    1. I’ve considered doing that. But I’m afraid the sugar will draw in even more ants than I deal with now.

  10. I really like your fall decor, the simplicity and the natural objects. I have a bin of ceramic pumpkins that I have not put out the last couple of years. I have told myself to let them go if they don’t come out this year. I usually don’t get enthused for fall until later. Living in Florida, it is just too hot to bother.

    Those are great Cardinal photos. You have a juvenile Cardinal in those shots. Her black beak is the giveaway. If she sticks around, you will see the beak become mottled with orange until it finally changes completely. And, it might molt into red and surprise you that it is a male! I love watching them.

    I’ve become a (for fun) nature photographer late in life. I have often wondered if I would have enjoyed it before, but I don’t think I would have until cameras became digital. Being able to take hundreds, thousands of photos has been such a big part of my learning process.

    Lastly, the yellow rose is beautiful, such perfectly perfect petals. Thank you for sharing.

    1. That yellow rose bush does not usually produce roses that are so symmetrical. So I had to get a photo of it. I’ve been very interested in photography since, oh, about 1998.

    1. I want women to know there is life after divorce. And it’s a beautiful and peaceful life. If I’d known I’d like it this much, I’d have done it a long time ago!

  11. Brenda, try putting on a bright pink T-shirt and going outside…..I have had hummingbirds fly right up to my face when I have had a solid bright color shirt on.

  12. There’s a lot to be said for a solitary life, Brenda. I live one myself. It’s funny, but it seems a lot of people just assume that if a woman is a certain age, she will have children (grown or otherwise) and a husband or an ex-husband tucked somewhere, or maybe buried somewhere. Nope, nope, nope and nope in my case. People are shocked! Well, that’s the way it happens sometimes. I wanted different things, and travelled different paths. But then, you have LOTS of acquaintances and friends, too. Anyone who blogs or who visits their favorite blogs regularly gets to join with other people who share things in common with them, and over time affinities may form, and a community. That’s part of the good side of the internet, the part I concentrate on 🙂 Being a single person living alone doesn’t mean expulsion from society or rejection of society, or exclusion in one way or another, on the person’s part, or on the part of others. I just like being by myself. I was always my own best entertainment – my mind. My imagination. My voracious reading from an early age on merely fueled an already existing propensity. It’s funny, because the rest of my family is very social, so I’m a bit of an outlyer I suppose. I need my space. I love my think time. I love my puttering around by myself doing whatever it is that I want to do now that I’m retired and pleasing nobody but myself time. Maybe that is the ultimate self-indulgence in selfishness, and I don’t care, LOL! I’m old enough now to say that just like I’ve earned those grey hairs at my temples that seem to resist all efforts at coloring them, I’ve also earned my love handles and my farmer’s tan and my hands that remind me of my favorite grandma’s hands when I look at them, and I’m shocked that the skin is no longer thick, pliable and smooth. And then it’s “oh well.” There are more of us “aloners” that there are others these days. We are the “new normal.” Personally, I’d just as soon stay swept under the rug and ignored, but it seems people are catching on. Darn it all. Your female cardinal is a late teenager in bird terms. She’s a beauty. I have a 4th generation couple living here this season, my 4th pair in 4 years. I love them so much. They are so smart too. They have me well trained. Mr. will come and sit on the fence and chirp near the patio door 2 or 3 times a day. I can hear him even if I’m at the back of the house in my den. I always come out and throw out a small handful of shelled unsalted peanuts. Then I whistle. He looks at me from side to side, checking me out (yes, it’s that large blobby thing again) and then he floats down to the patio, selects a peanut and flies away. Mrs. comes shortly after. Sometimes, though, she comes in the evening first, and she has gotten to trust me. She will stay on the ground hopping around eating peanut after peanut while I oversee the proceedings. She looks much like your female, but her crest has tamed, she’s gotten her adult feathers in.

    1. I so enjoyed reading about you and what you do in your world. It isn’t selfish to want to be alone. We are just solitary people. Nothing wrong with that.

    2. Like Brenda, I too enjoyed reading your commentary. You have a great philosophy. You are in good company…like that of Henry Thoreau.

  13. My good friend in Tulsa has moved his lens from his prolific garden to various insects and now to unusual architecture around his town. Always something nice to look at. You two remind me of each other in that you always see the interesting where I would only see the ordinary. Good work, Brenda

    1. I have considered doing my architectural and city photography. Seems I stay at home so much I don’t get around to looking for something else. Love to see your friend’s work.

  14. I enjoyed the nature photos today. How nice that the female cardinal got to enjoy some spa time on your patio! We had four blue jays sitting on our fence today. They were paired up, two and two, so, we don’t know if that meant they were couples or not. But we’ve never seen jays gather like that before. We also heard Mr. Hooty-hoo this morning too. You’d think he was an owl by that name, but, he, or she, we don’t really know, actually is a mourning dove who puts in some strange bits into the song, that sound more like a hoot than a coo. Oh, one last thing, the photo of the butterfly on the sedum is quite stunning! Thanks.

    Oh, about what I would have done differently — I would have liked to be a cartoonist, with a strip on the comics page. I like to draw and have a rather cartoon-y style, but, had no idea how to get into that line of work back in the day. Oh well. I got a degree in journalism and was a newspaper reporter, something I really did not enjoy. I’m impressed with how you did so many articles on tough subjects like murders, because I had to be on the police beat for a few months and felt very out of my element! I didn’t like interviewing people and also, my editors were always so cranky. My dad, brother and uncle had newspaper careers and my dad wanted me to go into it too, and so I did more to please him than myself. I did do that kind of work for eight years, and had a couple of other jobs involving research so, the degree certainly didn’t go to waste. My college years were a fun phase of life and I’m thankful I got to have that experience.

  15. I would have loved to retire in Mexico. I love the houses, the weather, the colorful decor and the food.
    We did consider it but felt it was too risky.
    Love all your pictures of wildlife and flowers Brenda, this is what makes me happy too seeing birds, squirrels, chipmunks and watching flowers and shrubs grow.

  16. I have always regretted that my Mom wouldn’t let me go for summer classes in Spain, between my freshman & sophomore years in college. I almost majored in Spanish.
    (I know she had her reasons, but there were also lies & secrets involved).
    Anyway, I wonder where my life would have led me. That was 43 years ago, & still I regret that lost opportunity.
    Brenda, you could take Charlie & go on that road trip more than once this fall! I will be driving in the country today, near Lawrence, Kansas. I love the backroads!
    Something so peaceful and soul soothing about those trips!
    Love your photos, as always! I always wonder what kind of tree Jade is? Looks like Ginko, but must be a small version to be on your patio. Is it in a container? What kind of sun/shade? I garden in containers in a courtyard, so wonder if I could try that too.
    Gotta go now! Bye!

    1. It is a ginkgo. And it is in a container. I bought it last October. The main reason I don’t take those drives is that I tend to get lost. And driving a 12 year old car, I sure don’t want to get lost.

  17. I think something to do with animals, whether a vet or a zoo I think would have been very satisfying. I like your quiet life, very similar to me and my Molly. Enjoy your Saturday.
    Carol and Molly

  18. I would have been much more adventurous. I would have moved to another country like the Bahamas, Mexico, Costa Rica or someplace like that. I would have stayed more active, done more gardening and exploring. I have always wanted to live in the tropical areas, more off grid, been more self sufficient.

  19. Love the photos, especially the cardinal. Is your tree a ginkgo? (That is what the leaves appear to be.)
    Don’t get me started on what I would have done differently in my life, lol! Suffice to say that I never would have married! I was satisfied with my career as an editor but wish I had been able to travel more, especially internationally.
    The only way I have ever been able to photograph a hummingbird was to sit out on my patio and wait for it, camera ready. Patience!

    1. I have sat outside and patiently waited for a hummingbird as well. Just haven’t been lucky yet. Yes, the tree is a ginkgo.

  20. Interesting question Brenda. I had thought I was going to be an Egyptologist but changed course and studied International Relations, I also studied Holocaust literature along the way. Its funny because although I never did exactly as I intended for a career I always used my education for whatever I was doing. I am a life long learner and am following my passions on a smaller scale as I age, like baking, writing, photography, etc.
    You are a wonderful writer and photographer so please keep sharing your world with us!

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