There was that bright red cardinal again – like a streak of crimson blood against the snow. Becky supposed his mate was somewhere out there too, but it was the male that caught her eye as he landed in the small tree outside her window. The pop and sizzle from the top of the stove turned her attention back to this morning’s breakfast.
On Sundays, she treated herself. She had purchased some smoked slab bacon and slices of it were frying in her cast iron pan, slowly filling her kitchen with the sweet scent of memories. Bacon and eggs were an ordinary breakfast in a time gone by; that sizzle combined with the plop plop of the coffee percolating had worked like an alarm clock for her back then. Becky’s father loved bacon at breakfast, and had given anyone who would listen his earnest instructions for cooking it properly. That took a while. Becky smiled as she turned down the heat, remembering his words. She remembered, too, that his perfect bacon was a gift he gave.
When he decided to make a pet of Charley, bacon was the lure. Charley was a great blue heron, who used to visit her father in Florida. She guessed they had both been lonely and between women at the time. It seemed that Charley loved bacon about as much as Becky’s father did. Every winter when he went to Florida, her father would spend whole afternoons in the lazy heat by the lake, luring Charley with bacon. And every year, Charley came a little closer.
Finally, it happened. Charley was so in love with that bacon that he forgot himself and followed her father and his bacon scraps right into the trailer!
Becky carefully turned the bacon in the skillet and poured herself another cup of coffee. Had her father been that bored and lonely, or had he been that tickled by the heron? It seemed to her that maybe he had been so in tune with nature that he instinctively knew how to make the heron do his bidding.
Becky’s father was not a man who had much formal schooling and in some ways it showed. But in many other ways, he knew more than anyone else she had met. Besides his bacon and a penchant for his homemade dandelion wine, his greatest gift was to say that someone had common sense.
Becky set the plates in the oven to warm and started the eggs. There were very few people she could recall that her father had bestowed his common-sense award upon. Virtually raising himself, he snorted contempt for any person whose opinions he considered ill-thought-out. Passionately opinionated, no subject was too unimportant for full consideration and discussion. His knowledge was extensive for a man who left high school to help support a family.
Becky remained deep in thought while she drained the bacon on a paper towel and clicked the toaster down. Putting a lid on the pan of eggs while turning off the burner, she absently got the butter from the refrigerator and stood waiting for the toast to pop up. Tapping a butter knife on the edge of her plate, she supposed it was that way for a lot of people. She had an idea now of how complicated the world was, and how irrevocable a decision could be.
The toast popped up and Becky buttered it. Filling her warm plate with toast, eggs and of course perfectly done bacon, she sat down at the kitchen table just as a blue jay alit on the sumac tree outside the window. He seemed unafraid, and in no rush to be somewhere else as he eyed her curiously. Becky wondered if blue jays might like bacon, too.