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A thank you note to hummingbirds

Thank you for brightening every day in my new home.

Thanks for brightening almost every trip we’ve had along the California-Oregon-Washington coast this spring, summer and fall.

Thanks for making the Albion River Inn our favorite getaway, because its oceanside gardens and trees buzz with more varieties of hummingbirds than we’ve ever seen in the United States.

And thanks, especially for dazzling us in Oregon’s lavender fields.  We found a riot of hummingbirds this summer at a Hood River farm, bursting with flowers and fruit.

Hummingbird at Oregon lavender farm

I’ve seen so few hummingbirds in my life (Northern Ontario, then Costa Rica), that I just can’t believe how many we’ve spotted in the Pacific Northwest.

I’m astonished they’re still living with us in mid-November.

I didn’t expect to see so many hummingbirds in Portland, where most of the woods are evergreen, and there aren’t as many luscious flowers as in California.

Yet we’ve had three resident hummingbirds almost all year, fighting and fidgeting at our feeder.  They’re so territorial and so tiny, it’s a wonder to watch them do Matrix-like moves in graceful, aerial battle.

To be blessed with hummingbirds is to learn about air combat in miniature:  We marvel at their ability to dive bomb each other, and fly in every direction — including backwards (I think they’re the only birds able to do this) — to protect their feeder.

Have hummingbirds?  You’ll learn about feeders, and the right food (water and sugar only — I had to call my mother, the gardener, for the correct measurements — and no, absolutely no, red coloring or chemicals.  You’ll kill them.)

We live in an apartment, so can’t plant all the flowers recommended by gardeners and such sources as the Audubon Society (which has a marvelous place in the woods, only a few miles from our home).

This might explain why we were happy to read the “ultimate guide to gardening for birds” in the current issue of Birds & Blooms.  (A gift from California friends, Patricia and Jesse, whose trees boast hummers, hawks and all manner of birds.)

Thanks to hummingbirds for reminding me that life can be frantic yet slow at the same time:  When I’m feeling overstressed, and writing near “my” window overlooking the forest, hummingbirds help me slow down.

Watch a hummingbird for awhile, and slooooooooow

I might ignore them for awhile while writing, but even at 5 a.m. (when I write and write and write), one glimpse of a hummingbird at the feeder, illuminated by the soft glow of a single lamp, makes me pause and smile, in gratitude.

I can be still, then.

I can appreciate the stillness while watching one of God’s most incredible creations in near-constant motion.

I can share the hummingbird’s stillness too, when she settles on a railing, near my writing table.

To be watched by a hummingbird, that most tiny and beautiful of beings, is to feel truly and deeply blessed.  And content.

Last night, a big storm brought the first snows of winter to some of the Pacific Northwest.

The wind shook our trees so much, that leaves from the big maples hit our windows with the harsh clatter of hail.

Through the dark, as the wind whipped leaves in all directions, one hummingbird came for a final feed, around 9 p.m.

The wind was so rough, it whipped his little body back and forth, ruffling his feathers into a ‘do like a teen’s Mohawk.

We were impressed and amused, laughing out loud that “our” tiny hummingbird was so tough.  Despite the winds, he was clinging to the feeder base, determined to catch a last few sips.  The wind rocked him back and forth on the feeder, like a bit of flotsam in an ocean storm.

I’m thankful for his lesson in resilience.

As I write this morning, in the still aftermath of the storm, another hummer is practicing vertical flights near my desk.

I stop and watch, and appreciate the stillness.


All photos by Hadi Dadashian, onforestcreek.wordpress.com.  Please give credit or link when reposting.