Sunday, August 23, 2009

the hummingbird principle

I have been seeing an ochre and green hummingbird in the garden since midsummer -- at least I think it's the same one, always solitary, hovering around the bee balm, dipping into the butterfly bush. Sometimes I hear him before I see him, that quick startling vibration somewhere near my ear. Dickinson called one a "route of evanescence" and that seems exactly right -- here and gone, a path of sudden iridescent appearance and quick, gone again. The day before yesterday I spent a good deal of the day working outside, and he seemed to be everywhere, and I started to think of him as a very small and very energetic muse. That night, I bought a hummingbird feeder at KMart, the least offensive one on display -- no huge plastic flower shape, no "art glass," just a clear tube with small red plastic flowers on the bottom to dispense the nectar.

Since hanging it up first thing yesterday, no hummingbird. When I'm watering or weeding, I keep looking; inside, I keep checking the kitchen window. No sign of one. I know it's magical thinking, but I feel I've expressed my desire for the hummingbird, and that did it: whatever we say we want loves to go buzzing spectacularly away. I am waiting for the one-inch wonder to refute this observation.

6 comments:

Peter Kent said...

What a puzzling reaction from your tiny companion. Perhaps he's just overwhelmed by the bounty represented by a feeder just for him? I suspect he will return . . . maybe unexpectedly, when you've come close to giving up hope of seeing him again.

I had a close encounter with a ruby-throated cousin of your new friend, when I was on the Cape this summer. I happened to sit down on a bench within a brick-enclosed garden at almost the very moment my hummingbird arrived to sip from a bedraggled group of salvia.

He was there less than 30 seconds and then gone. It felt like a particular blessing that our schedules should coincide. I never saw him again . . . but maybe next summer?

Jesse Zavtrak Ko said...

Keep waiting, I think he'll come back... :)

julia said...

Mark - I think you need to let the little guys know early in the summer that you're serious -

A friend was sitting on the pot in her upstairs bathroom early in the summer when last year's hummer came and hovered, quite upset - hey! where's my honey, honey?

They're stunning, arent they? (and fairly aggressive)

Mark Doty said...

The hummingbird in question demonstrated yesterday that he is not a believer in Proust's law of desire (that we instinctively withhold whatever it is other people most desire from us) -- he showed up, darting from beebalm up into the maples and down to the feeder, and he's been in and out of the garden ever since.

julia said...

ooo la la! lovely! the wee jeweled one has come to your hand! (aka "feeder") & will surely return next year.

oh dear! love and responsiblity! sigh!

apprentice said...

Oh I'm so glad he was decided to show up and blow that particular idea away with the thistledown.

I love Tess Gallagher's poem on finding a dead hummingbird.

http://orelitrev.startlogic.com/v3n2/OLR-gallagher.htm