The other day while at the College, I was standing just outside a classroom quietly talking with a colleague just around the time the students took a break. (I wonder why we don't call it recess at the College?) A 25-ish year old student opened the door and stepped out right in front of me. She was wearing a low cut tank top and jeans. Peaking out of her top were two elaborately designed tatoos of hummingbirds. In flight. Larger than life. They looked like they were escaping from her breasts.
Before I could stop myself and gather my sense of decorum, I exclaimed..... "Wow! I love your hummingbirds! Those little birds fascinate me!"
Luckily no one around me seemed to consider this a gaff and the student was thrilled that her "birds" were acknowledged. My enthusiastic outburst led to hearing the story behind her choice of tattoo. She came to life. Big smiley bright eyes! Pleasantly surprised that I had even noticed. I mean, how could one not notice?? The woman has brightly coloured hummingbirds flying out of her breasts and no one comments?
Her choice of personal skin-art was a tribute to her Dad who had passed away. He had a backyard full of hummingbird feeders that lured the little beings to his home every summer. He loved their vitality. So does his daughter.
Serendipitously, I have been a bit obsessed with these tiny creatures of late because I have a few hummingbirds who have made my backyard their home this summer too. During times when I've found a few moments to take a relaxing breath over a morning cup of tea, or an end of the workday sigh, I have watched them with fascination and tried to capture their life essence in a poem.
I find myself drawn to their energy as they flit and flummer, wings thrumming as fast as plane propellers, from one flower bloom to another seeking sweetness. Did you know that a hummingbird lives on the tipping edge of dying? Their full flight bursts exhaust their energy reserves so dramatically that they are constantly on the verge of starvation. It makes sense. They rarely stop! Their busyness and focused determination to fill up their reserves with sugary sustenance seems to defy this fact.
Hummingbirds exude excitable confidence. Inherently, they use their needle sharpe beaks to hone in on the blossom's soul where honeydrips await. I watched one hover around a purple lilac with such purpose and focus. His irridescent wings and purple and green sheen body never stopped. As it reached into every little bloom, I wondered if the little hummer felt like it had won the jackpot! One flower head. A thousand honey spots.
The other morning before it was time to head off to work, I sat on the side steps of my deck to enjoy my tea and the view of the river. The weather this spring has been so wet and gloomy that when the sun manages to push away the grey clouds, there is a stronger sense of hopeful joy in the moment than if we had been blessed with better weather.
Quiet and still..... grounded. That's how I felt as I took in the sights and sounds of nature all around me. There was a chorus of songbirds harmonizing, communicating, expressing their truimphs and their love desires. Beautiful sounds! As I listened, I let the breeze spirits seep through me skin to let it replace my tiredness. It felt like an awakening........a spa for the senses. Then, I saw him. This tiny speck of a being sitting right in the middle of the yellow clothesline in my neighbours backyard. One little hummer with the line all to himself. It was comical. He looked like a B-flat note from a music chart. One little note from a universal scoring.
He didn't sit perfectly still. Hummingbirds are hyperactive. But, for him, he was perched pretty darn quietly. His wings had stopped. Though he was too tiny to make his head do a "bob and weave" like you would describe if you were trying to capture the head movement in a larger species, he did make the same movement.... It was more of a tip and a flit as he scanned the yard like a Lord looking over his kingdom. Then, I heard his birdcall. He somehow managed to project his voice above the louder tweets. I heard him call out. I'm HERE!
It left me in awe....... It left me feeling as sense of kindredness with my backyard buddy. My life is so busy. For the most part I like it that way. There are days though when the activities are survival ones. Maybe not physically like the tiniest member of the bird family, but emotionally/spiritually. On the tipping edge. Then, I take a moment to sit on my rejuvenating steps to draw in the blessed goodness of my life.
We have the gift of nature to be our mentor. The life that unfolds with growth and determination all around us sends messages of importance life affirming learning. All we have to do is pay attention and relate.
The eagle teaches us to soar in freedom...... catching gust of wind under our own wings. The robin shares many lessons about how to build a home, to protect and provide. Mourning Doves live in love with their soulmates. And the hummingbird? He is the biggest gift of them all because he is the the mentor of resilience.
There is beauty in the song of resilience. No matter how ugly life can get we are all more beautiful because of our attempts at making it happen. The key is to take the time to savour the honeydrips and to keep at it!