I found a baby cardinal in the parking garage.  He was sitting right in the middle of the lane and I stopped the truck, got out and scooped him up.  He eyed me curiously, but did not appear frightened.  In fact, he perched atop my finger and occasionally pecked the center of my palm in search for food.  I was standing beside the railing, however, when a sudden gust lifted him out of my hand and over the side.  Four stories he fell, flapping to right himself.  I gasped and watched in horror as he landed in the middle of College St.  

A mad dash to the truck and a fierce drive spiraling through layers of parked cars later, I stopped traffic and again scooped up the tiny bird.  This time he hopped gracefully onto my finger.  I stood on the sidewalk uncertain of my next move.  As another car passed, the little cardinal burst into flight and landed less gracefully than before on the branch of a nearby tree.

While still in the road, we must have made quite a pair:  He with his little wings folded awkwardly over baby feathers protruding out between smooth mature feathers and me wearing a baffled smile of pure wonderment-  Neither of us quite belonging to our surroundings having found each other for one brief moment as if the universe paired us from the start.   

As I write this, I know not of the fate of the baby cardinal, no more than I know my own fate, but I’ll imagine a life for him and each time I see a fully grown cardinal perched in a sea of green leaves, I’ll remember the little bird and the sense of wonder he brought me at just the right moment.