Two weeks ago I took the time to make homemade nectar, and to clean and refill my hummingbird feeder. This time, I placed the hanger outside the window facing my desk. For years, I delighted in maintaining the feeders and observing these delicate creatures. The seasonal buzz of their flight would draw my attention from the book I was reading, as I lounged on my wicker sofa. One summer I counted six different birds. I watched in awe as their feeding patterns changed with the weather; a ten-minute spacing in good climate, to about a five-minute interval when a storm was approaching.
Then a hurricane swept through my life, and sorrow settled into my joints. The year following my son’s death, I stared at the empty container and thought about making the food. I thought about the joy these winged things had brought me. But the sadness superseded all else, as if it had wings all its own. Eventually, the grief began to wane, and I returned to my annual tradition and delight in feeding the hummingbirds.
I haven’t been faithful at feeding them these past few years. I often found myself longing to act, yet devoid of action. A different anxiousness and life of activity had filled my days and nights. Recently, though, the summer travel and comings-and-goings of my family have slowed. Graduation festivities have come to a close. I have spent much time at my desk, catching up on paperwork. The yearning for “my hummingbirds,” as I call them, prompted me to mix the potion. The flurry of movement that has returned to the feeder censors the drudgery of my bookwork, brightens my workspace.
Since putting out the food, I have glimpsed four distinctive hummingbirds: one red-throated, one green-throated, one with a glossy green stripe down its back, and a light brown, messy-feathered miniature that appears to be a baby. My feathered friends have already consumed one bottle of the sustenance, and are draining a second.
Through the glass have come other, first-time, remarkable surprises this week: a young fawn meandering down the orchard lane next to the road, and a chick, fresh from the nest, flitting across my lawn, the mother coming in and out of view. I’ve ceased my work, and marveled for a few minutes at each sighting. This wondrous, gentler side of life rejuvenates me.
Tonight, I carried my laptop to the field behind my home. The stars are prominent in a sky untainted by city lights. The Big Dipper looms large overhead, and countless other stars decorate the heavens. Peace flows through my veins.