This afternoon I heard a cardinal sing

Observed near the Salton Sea, this female quai...

I woke this morning thinking I heard quail, and that was patently impossible, because I was surrounded by dozens of parked semi-trucks beside my motel, miles and miles of freeway on the other side, and a room three stories up. But I awoke thinking I heard the quail.

I had driven from my little town to Phoenix for the weekend. These communities are less than a hundred miles apart, but at the same time, are places that belong to different worlds: Phoenix-metro has about three million people; my little town about fifteen thousand. In my town right now the iris and forsythia are blooming; in Phoenix, the palo verde trees have turned a brilliant gold and the ironwood trees are a filagreed lavender.

Did I mention the traffic? We have only four-lane roads in my little town, and not too many of those. Phoenix has hundreds of miles of ten-lane freeways, as evidenced by the sooty residue on my car’s windshield this morning.

And money! We don’t have a lot here; WalMart is our big time shopping adventure. Scottsdale, on the edge of Phoenix has Neiman Marcus, a dedicated Mont Blanc shop, and the newest of Tesla showrooms.

Churches, too. I visited a Phoenix church this morning boasting a magnificent choir, acres of stained glass windows, and a membership approaching five thousand. The little church I often frequent in my home town has maybe two hundred members in attendance on a good Sunday—say, Easter.

Both places are important to me, for different reasons. I like to visit Phoenix, because it gives me perspective on my problems and goals and adventures. Somehow ninety miles from home I can see clearly what I cannot envision up close and personal in my easy chair.

I need, not the affluence of the metropolitan area, but rather the contrast of differences, the ability to say, oh! there is another world out there, not better or worse, but unique in its own way. I am not alone in my searching.

Northern Cardinal / Cardinal rouge

And this afternoon, when I came back, a cardinal singing in the crepe myrtle welcomed me home. A good journey, indeed!