The newly green trees are crowded these March days with a vatican-load of cardinals - not the red-hatted ones but the red-feathered variety.
It was Sunday - we were planting basil and tomatoes. The blue dome of the sky arched over me, the sun was warm on my back, while the cardinals serenaded me from the bamboo. They sang their lungs out, full of the joys of Spring. As I eased a basil plant from its nursery pot, a little grey frog jumped to the ground.
"Well, hello there," I said.
There was dirt on his back, dirt on his head, dirt between his legs and his torso - he must have been hunkered down and cozy in that litte pot before this lummox of a human so rudely dislodged him. He wasn't holding grudges though. He didn't object when I nudged him onto my wrist, wiggling his hind quarters and sending crumbs of soil flying. He settled down, in no hurry to move away. He wasn't a military fellow - too tiny for one thing - but he was wearing grey camo (under the bits of soil) But then, my new friend and his ilk were probably wearing camo when we were still living in caves.
I don't often go to church these days, which sometimes causes me an uneasy twinge of guilt - the nuns are still very much alive in my head. Looking at this little, trusting creature though, it occurred to me, that God is found, not only in cathedrals, but in gardens, in birdsong, in seashells and flowers and in the littlest creatures with whom we share our spaces. Here was this little fellow, doing and living exactly as his maker intended for him to do and to live, unconcerned with all the problems us humans invent for ourselves. I was glad I had used my hands, and not the trowel, to dig the basil out. He did finally jump from my wrist and settled in close to a nearby clay pot.
"Stay awhile," I told him, and went back to planting.
The OC wandered by and I introduced him to my new friend, explaining that we'd been having a chat. He smiled. He knows that when you get helpers in the garden it's wise to humor them no matter how daft they may be, but then he smiled again (this time not his " humouring the crazy lady" smile.)
He pointed behind me to where two elegant cranes were stepping daintily through the trees. "Ladies" is how I think of them when they're earthbound. They sound more like drunken sailors on a bender when they're airborne, raucously honking across the sky. I was relieved to see Froggy had taken to his heels - just as well not to become a tasty morsel for the "Ladies".
My sister goes running in Cratloe Woods. It's a peaceful, piney place on a hillside out in the country, a few miles from where we grew up. I've been there with her. In fact the OC and I got married in the tiny church there, so I completely understand why she calls those woods her cathedral.
I am too far removed from Cratloe now so I content myself sitting in pews of grass and mud along with frogs, lizards and sand hill cranes. Sometimes a tortoise wanders in and delivers a soundless sermon. And all the while the cardinal choir sings boisterous psalms in the bamboo soaring over our heads.