It happened so quickly, one day this past week. It was early, before the rest of the neighborhood was awake, and I’d just opened the vertical blinds on the sliding glass door at the breakfast table. And then I saw it.
A hummingbird stopped by to say good morning to me. This flashy little bird, one of the few hummingbirds I’ve ever seen in our yard, flew under the patio cover and hovered, right in front of our sliding glass door. I’m told their wings flap something like 70 times per second. Can this really be true? I’ve recently read a beautiful essay by Cassie Steele, about going to the hummingbirds‘ wintering grounds in Mexico, and suddenly one of these lively little creatures was at my glass door, looking directly at me for 4 or 5 seconds.
To say that I was mesmerized would be putting it mildly. Think of it. I was the only one there, the only one to see this beautiful sight. My heart was the only one beating while watching this magnificent bird. And it did not fly away immediately, but hovered, looking at me, as if sending me a message. Are you listening? Can you hear me? I’m telling you, the universe is speaking. Don’t forget to listen. It’s more important than you know. And then it was gone.
Years ago I read a beautiful short story by Hemingway, in Big, Two-Hearted River, if I’m remembering it correctly. He reaches down into a rocky stream bottom and touches a trout, which swims away quickly as any self-respecting fish would. But Hemingway wrote … ‘It was gone, gone in a flash.’ That’s the way I felt about the hummingbird that visited me early that morning.
I really did stand there, afraid to move, afraid I’d scare it away, and I wanted to absorb its beauty. I’m sure we’ve all felt and acted this way when surprising a deer or some other skittish animal at various times in our lives. Wait, don’t move. Don’t even breathe. Just inhale.
Someone told me years ago that I’d probably been a bird in a previous life, because I always went around curling bare toes over things to pick up on the floor … a pencil, bits of paper, or clothes. “You’re like a bird, perched on a branch,” I was told. And quickly, watching the hummingbird wildly beating its wings as if to communicate with me, I remembered this long-ago comment.
Most people would gather their morning paper and coffee to get on with their day, but for a few minutes there, looking out into the back yard, I lost myself in thoughts of what it might be like to really be a bird.
A shrink would probably have a field day with this one!