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It was snowing lightly, the ground barely covered in patches of white. I had paused by the back door for a few minutes, watching the snow falling, when I saw the telltale flash of red. My cardinals, male and female, silent and unseen for weeks, sat in the lilac tree that had sheltered their nest. They brought with them 3 more males and one female. I grabbed my camera and stepped into the snow (with my bare arms and my sock feet), expecting them to scatter. Instead, they took turns fluttering to nearby trees and turning to look at me. Then one by one, they flew away. I think they were saying good-bye.

To see more “Gone But Not Forgotten” photos, click here.