A hummingbird whispers above the feeder. Every year I hang the plastic flowers and wait. Sight of the first hummer of the season is always magical. He sits on the edge of the feeder, taking long sips, looking up and down and side to side — scanning the surroundings for other birds, protecting his territory.
It doesn’t matter that there are two feeders or three. He does not like to share. When another bird stops by he dive-bombs it, chasing it away. I watch him fly up and sit on a tiny dead branch of the dogwood tree, guarding the feeder from a bird’s-eye view. He does not know, cannot know, that the supply of sugar water is endless, that it’s ok to share, that I could feed a whole flock of hummers, preparing them all for the long trip south next fall. But there is a bit of wisdom to be garnered from the hummer: he knows that if you don’t guard the sugar water, someone else will take it.
Speaking of thieves…One night last summer I heard a noise that sounded like dishes rattling on the back porch. It was a warm night, the jasmine in bloom, sweet scents drifting through the open window.
When I flipped on the light a raccoon looked up at me with curious, watery eyes. He had his head and front feet in the ceramic frog pond. This must have been his regular watering hole, but I had emptied all the water to get rid of the mosquito larvae. When I opened the door he went scurrying off into the dark.
Later, he came back to drink the sugar water from the hummingbird feeders. I discovered his muddy paw prints all over the plastic flowers the next morning. So, I had to start moving the feeders inside every night. For several nights thereafter he kept coming back. I saw his tracks on the back porch. One night, about a week later, he jumped up on the railing and left his mark — the digested remnants of dinner. He didn’t know that marking his territory wouldn’t do any good. It would not magically make the feeders reappear.
But his antics started me thinking about life and how we all occasionally find ourselves on the losing side of a frustrating dilemma, being slow to accept the fact that no matter how loud or intense the discussion, or how sad, passionate, or needy the circumstance, the sugar water will not be forthcoming.
Here’s to a SWEET, long weekend!