The signs and sounds of the mating season surround the house. The raucous robins claim the fen beside my little camper, Happy, for their annual convention to proclaim their mate and nesting place. This the robins convened long before my husband and I stepped foot on this patch of land.

City folk yearning for a country home, we found this property thirty-six years ago, stood upon its breathtaking, undulating landscape with mouths agape. In the midst of the alfalfa field, a mouse scampered up my pants leg. My welcome to the neighborhood.

With one of three daughters in college, we had a smallish Cape Cod built. One by one, the girls packed their belongings (sans Cabbage Patch dolls that remain in the attic) and left the nest. Without fail, every spring the robins returned to the fen in March.

Eventually, as the pines grew on the west side of the house, a confused male cardinal perched on a branch close to the dining room window and pecked away. The poor fellow pursued his reflection for a mate!

Just as the robins inhabit the fen, the male cardinal returns to the pine each springtime, either the downstairs dining room window, or the bedroom window upstairs. Now, what does that tell us about the male cardinal?

Just yesterday as I sat at my desk, I turned to the window to ruminate awhile when a male and female cardinal landed on the lawn under the bare branches of the Bradford pear tree. Perhaps this means the cardinal has found his mate without pecking on the window and tormenting Mitty and Cuddles, my household cats.

I’ve also spied hawks circling above the fen and hen house, ready to dive down at the sight of hens below, loose and unsupervised. Years ago, inexperienced with the stealth predators, I lost a hen to a hawk.

This morning before my walk downhill to the henhouse, I remembered that tragic day when a hawk killed a hen. I’d left the six girls secured in the fenced vegetable garden. So I thought until I found a dead, bloodied hen, and her five sisters huddled together in the tall grass along the fence. I was so relieved to find them alive that I cried.

Never again have I left my hens vulnerable to predators.

These experiences in husbandry personify the seasons in my life as a mother and wife. In sequence, I let go my three daughters to fulfill their dreams and discover their God-given purpose. One never returned home. Now, my husband rests beside her.

Dear Reader, in this first mating season without the man of my marital vow, in this season of resurrection from death, I pause and observe the cardinals in their mating ritual. I watch the hawks in flight.

Again, the still voice of our Comforter reminds me, “And we know all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.”

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com