Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

They’re He-re!

When I was very young, my sisters and I had a competition over who would spot the arrival of our beloved grandmother first. When I was the lucky one, I would shout, “Gramma’s here!” and race across our yard to greet her as she exited her car. She brought new coloring books and crayons. Life was instantly better. Today, April 13, I was waiting impatiently to hear the initial spring trill of a hummingbird, and then a hummingbird was spotted drinking at our feeder! My husband won the honor of the discovery.

Our first hummingbird is usually a scout, thirsty and tired and anxious for an energizing drink. In anticipation, we have a single feeder in place and filled immediately after Easter, although we may have to bring it indoors each night to prevent it from freezing. Regardless, to disappoint that first scout would feel like an unforgivable betrayal, especially when we consider the travel that tiny bird has already endured. The scout that came today looks like he’s had a really rough journey, and no wonder because the clouds are dark and the winds are growing wicked. However, the scout doesn’t stay. He has miles to go and is soon on his way. The hummingbirds who make it to our yard over the subsequent days generally follow suit. And then the main group begins to zoom in. Later in the summer, we should be able to count over 60 little visitors around our deck—enough that they once frightened our small grandchildren who swatted at them because their wing beats sounded like swarming flies. We may eventually need ten pounds of sugar per week (to make a 1:4 ratio of sugar to water) to keep our feeders filled. If we have fewer birds, we worry about pesticides and climate change.

Hummingbirds are symbols of courage and resilience when you study how far those fragile wings fly and what they fly through. Their annual survival feels miraculous. Yet, they alight in our trees, their bright colors catching the sun, their dogged defense of their temporary territories making them swoop and dive at competitors. When other birds hide at the sound of a nearby hawk, the hummingbirds go about their business, certain they can out-maneuver any hawk, confident they would make a poor dinner.

My excitement over the reappearance of the hummingbirds confounds some of our neighbors. What’s the fuss about? It’s like trying to explain the delight of the first snowfall after a long, hot summer. Change feels like progress or at least relief, a reassurance of normalcy in abnormal times. Hummingbirds carry a guarantee that spring is, indeed, happening, no matter what the temperatures. As we all know too well, spring or fall weather isn’t necessarily predictable. Just now our temperatures are dropping from their brief tease in the 70’s, and snow is predicted. The hummingbirds don’t always choose optimum times to set up housekeeping. Yet they don’t flee even when hail kills a number of them as they shelter in their nests. Their schedule is their guess. We never know precisely when they’ll choose to arrive or leave. We don’t blame them for their errors. As self-described superior beings, often even we aren’t able to select the most appropriate clothes because our scientific forecasts stumble over the confusing tangle of weather variables near the mountains.

Resilience, hope, and indefatigable optimism are the qualities I associate with hummingbirds. They remind me that the dark, lonely days of winter are giving way to warmth and light and happy life all around. My husband and I think we occasionally recognize friendly return visitors who come to the window to announce their presence. Whether or not that’s true, we can’t help smiling when we can finally call out, “The hummers are here!”

(photo by Scott Miller of Scott Miller blog)

One comment on “They’re He-re!

  1. A dear friend shared the following site so we can stay up to date with the best advice available:

    The new ratio is 1:3. I do believe in research and I’m very grateful to be updated.

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