Sunday, March 26, 2017
The Souls of Aztec Warriors
It was only after my family moved to this small town that I saw my first hummingbird and then I got my first hummingbird feeder. They are amazing little birds--speedy and feisty and colorful. Their aerial battles with one another are a sight to behold. It's little wonder that legend says that they are the souls of Aztec warriors come to life again.
I've put out at least one feeder every year since but I'm not the most consistent of human beings. Hummingbird feeders want a lot of attention--cleaning and re-filling and cleaning again. Sugar water ferments too quickly in our hot humid climate. I really do mean to keep the feeders going all summer but I generally don't--thank goodness others do better than I. But the birds come back, no matter what, as long as there are flowers nearby for them to feed from. They are drawn to red ones especially.
When I worked at the Arboretum, I sometimes had the chance to sit outside near a large planter filled with native salvia. The hummingbirds loved that salvia, and they'd fly round my head as I sat there quiet as could be. Often I could feel the brush of their wings as they flew past my hair. Once, when I was wearing a red blouse, a little bird lighted on my shoulder. I felt honored.
It's easy enough to estimate when the humming birds come and go here because their migration routes are the same each year. They arrive sometime around St. Patrick's Day and depart for the autumn by Columbus Day. That means that should be back for the summer already but I wasn't really thinking about that until I heard a noise the other night--a very specific noise: the whirr of hummingbird wings.
You see, I've been enjoying working at my desk ever since I moved it below the window earlier this month. I love the pretty glass that I've put on the sill--like King Bird (wrote about that here) and the vibrant artisan-made orange tumblers that my mother bought back in the 1960's to keep on her window sills--not just for beauty but as a security measure (read about that good idea in this post). And I like very much to open the window wide in the cool of the evening while I'm laboring over my sales listings. That's how I happened to hear the little bird, although I did not see him--he must surely have been attracted by the light and the bright colors of the glass. The flowers on my stained glass lamp would have attracted him, too--I know because it's happened before when I've had my desk in front of a window.
I've been thinking what a pleasure it would be to watch the birds outside my desk window, and I remembered that there was a hook on the eaves above the window. So yesterday morning, I searched out a feeder that was hidden away in my pantry (next to the bubble wands and sparklers that I keep for the days when I am in need a whimsical rescue). I made some hummingbird food (1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1 cup of water and a few drops of red food coloring). And I got some copper wire from my work table to make a long hanger that could reach that high-up hook without me having to stand on a ladder.
Now I just have to wait for the birds to discover the feast. I'm sure I'll hear the whirr of wings again soon.
Life is good.