The other night as I was getting ready for bed I noticed a cardinal perched out on the handrail of our front porch. It was 11:40 PM. Rather than continuing with my nightly routine of turning off the lights and putting up the cat’s food bowl, I stopped, sat down on my couch, and watched him through our picture window. He was positioned perfectly under our porch light so I was able to see every feather that was ruffled by the wind that night.
It really bothered me that he was out there. Birds, for the most part, are not nocturnal. Why would this one be out on a cold windy night when he could be at home with his lady bird all snuggled up in their nest? My mind was flooded with questions… Did he and his lady bird have a fight? Did she kick him out? Had he brought home the wrong kind of sunflower seeds for dinner?
Or had something happened to one of his babies? Was he out looking for his lost youngster? Did one wander off and go missing before bed? Had something come by in the dark of the night and snatched one away? If that was the case, why was he all alone? Why weren’t other cardinals out looking with him?
The more I wondered about this bird the more concerned I became. Was he not at home in his nest because some small child had found it earlier in the day and thought it would be great to take to school for show-and-tell? Or was the tree he nested in chopped down this evening because it was blocking someone’s view?
Or was this bird running away from something? Maybe his tree is right next door to a bully bird’s tree and he just can’t take the bullying any more. He’s tired of the name calling and the feather pulling and being pushed out of his nest time after time after time.
Or instead of a bully, perhaps this cardinal is running away from even bigger problems. Had he lost his job and is now facing a financial crisis? Is his nest being foreclosed on? Are creditor birds swinging by at all hours of the day demanding to be paid? Is he going to have to file for bankruptcy? Did he, out of total desperation, knock over a seed store to feed his family and is now on the run from the birdie police? Okay, okay. Probably not.
Alright. Definitely not.
Maybe he is just alone in the world and couldn’t sleep and figured he may as well go out for a night time fly since he has no lady bird at home to snuggle with and no baby birdies to protect.
I sat in my window for several long minutes watching this beautiful bird, wondering if there was anything that could be done for him. Like what, you ask? Oh, I don’t know. Obviously I’m not a bird whisperer or a Dr. Doolittle, so if he was having problems at home with the Mrs. then clearly I couldn’t have done anything about that. But, we could put a new birdhouse out in the back yard for him. I’m sure we’re bird-bully free in our neighborhood. Zero-tolerance.
When Jeff came into the living room to find out why I hadn’t come to bed yet I tried to show him the cardinal that had been sitting on our handrail for the past 10 minutes. He, of course, flew away just before Jeff got to the window. When I asked Jeff why he thought a cardinal would be out at such a late hour he thought for a few seconds and then said, “He was probably unroosted by a raccoon”. And that was that. I don’t think he’s thought about it since then.
Holy moly, these little things are unbelievable. I ran across the recipe on Pinterest several weeks ago and have had them in the back of my mind ever since. Why? For the past two holiday seasons Jeff’s Aunt Robbin, who always prepares the most amazing meals, has made this unforgettable appetizer using these three items: corn chips, cream cheese, and candied jalapenos. So simple – so addictive! I know that every Fall she makes a special trip to attend a festival just outside of the city she lives in so that she can buy a jar of these things. This year I thought it might be fun to surprise her with a jar made by us. Now, if only we can resist eating them all by the time Thanksgiving rolls around…
Recipe comes from one of my favorite food bloggers, Rebecca at Foodie with Family.
- 3 pounds fresh, firm, jalapeno peppers, washed
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 6 cups white granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- 3 teaspoons granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- Wearing gloves, remove the stems from all of the jalapeno peppers. (Or, enlist in the help of your husband who, more than likely, will refuse to put the gloves on.)
- Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-1/4 inch rounds. Set aside.
- In a large pot, bring cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers, loading into clean, sterile canning jars to within 1/4 inch of the upper rim of the jar. Turn heat up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes.
- Use a ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars over the jalapeno slices. Insert a cooking chopstick to the bottom of the jar two or three times to release any trapped pockets of air. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel and fix on new, two-piece lids to finger-tip tightness.
- Place jars in a canner, cover with water by 2-inches. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, set the timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints. When timer goes off, use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Leave them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. When fully cooled, wipe them with a clean, damp washcloth then label.
- Allow to mellow for at least two weeks, but preferably a month before eating.
We’ve already made this recipe twice. If you read Rebecca’s blog you’ll see that she encourages you to make a double batch. We should have listened to her! :)