By John Schorling
Summer is here and with it an opportunity to appreciate all the bounties of nature. Trees are green, flowers are in bloom, birds and animals abound. The heat and humidity can be a barrier to spending time outside, and we may find we seek the comfort of air-conditioned space to escape them. My wife and I have been noticing this, and intentionally choosing to sit on our deck, in the shade. The place where we sit is right next to a hummingbird feeder, and we’ve been watching the hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds are amazing creatures. They can beat their wings over 50 times a second, and are the only birds that can hover. They have very active metabolisms, and may consume up to half their body weight in a day, visiting as many as 1000-2000 flowers. They are travelers and can migrate up to 2000 miles, wintering in Mexico and Central America. They also have relatively large brains, about twice as large compared to their body weight as humans.
One hummingbird in particular seems as curious about us as we are about her. She comes to the feeder right above my head, her wings buzzing, calling with a high-pitched chirp, hovering while she sips the sugar water before she returns to her perch in the maple tree just above the feeder. There she can gaze at us as I gaze at her, before returning to the feeder again. Occasionally she will fly right in front of us and hover, perhaps as interested in the characteristics of the human who is observing her as he is of hers.
In these moments it is easy to just be grateful and appreciate her presence without thinking about how many times a minute she beats her wings or how many flowers she has visited.
As Mary Oliver wrote in her poem “The Summer Day”:
“I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?”
Filed Under: Monthly Musings