Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hummingbird in the Snow

But if I were a lily
I think I would wait all day
for the green face
of the hummingbird
to touch me.

From Lilies by Mary Oliver

The first snowfall was my signal to hole up in the office, stay warm and cozy, and write. Through the picture window I watched big soft snowflakes drift to the ground and felt like I was inside a snow globe. Soon I was mesmerized by the hypnotic flow. But my husband Tom broke the spell. He called me out of the office and pointed to the dining room window.
“It’s on its last legs!” he said.
Right outside the window a tiny hummingbird was perched on the snow-coated feeder, completely still. I sprang into action. Pulling on a jacket, boots, scarf, hat, I ran out the door to get the frozen feeder. Back inside, I thawed it out and refreshed it with new sugar water. Tiny hummingbird feathers were stuck to the rim. My heart raced with panic.
I went back outside with the refilled feeder and the second I the slid it back on its hook, even before I could step back, I heard the unmistakable whirring of wings. The hummingbird was alive and well, and ready for breakfast. I stood there not even a foot away and watched it sip. What a fine way to start the morning!
Thus began days of hummingbird vigil. My attention was focused on taking the feeder in as soon as it froze, thawing it out, refreshing the syrup and returning it outside. As soon as this weather calms down and I get back out in the world, I’ll buy a second feeder to make the transition faster.
On one of my forays outside, I saw my neighbor Steve shoveling his driveway, and told him about the hummingbirds.
“We have a feeder out too, and we keep changing it,” he said. “The males are fighting over it.”
So we have a hummingbird flyway now, with two stations for them to visit. Who knows, maybe up and down our block, there are more magnets waiting for our little visitors. I can picture them flitting from feeder to feeder, flashing their iridescent feathers, beating their tiny wings, and blessing us with their presence on snowy winter days.

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