You’ve seen hummingbirds, right? Minute things whose wings go faster than you can see, know what I mean? They’re like a blur, they move so fast. And the colors! Jewel tones, like deep green and red and purple; they’re like, wow, just gorgeous, get my drift? And they’re drawn to red things, right? So the feeder in Mother’s garden is red on the top and the bottom,can you picture it? And she makes this red, sugary water syrup and the tiny little things are drawn to it. They hover over the yellow, daisy shaped holes in the base and drink with their little bodies making tiny up and down movements. In the heat of the summer, the bees are drawn to the feeder pine and they swarm around the little holes, which means the hummingbirds have to brave the bees to get any of the sugary water syrup and I feel for those poor little hummingbirds because not only do they have to eat several times an hour to survive, now they have to fight the battle of the bees taking all their nourishment.
Is that fair? Is life fair? Is there any place I can go to get nourishment that doesn’t include some battle against some force that wants to defeat me? Will I have the strength and courage to keep up the fight for what I need?
Oh, for the bravery of the jeweled colored hummingbirds, oh, for the bravery of the loud, buzzing, bright yellow and black bees, oh, for the bravery of the feral cats who stalk the jeweled colored hummingbirds in Mother’s yard, who ignore the loud buzzing of the bright yellow and black bees, those feral cats who’ve got our movements down who know to run when we come outside; oh, for the bravery of the wild outdoors.
It wasn’t always this way. In the gauzy memory of my childhood, my stalwart father’s cheerful, loving spirit hovered over our home as its benevolent and strong protector and my ever present Mother in her dutiful homemaker role made a safe and loving canopy for my brothers and my sister and I to grow; in those days our sanctuary included cats and a caged bird or two and there was harmony for both species.
But somewhere along the way, Mother decided that the back yard should be a bird sanctuary, so she had Daddy get her a stone bird bath, shaped like a huge concrete flower on its concrete stem and most days, she went out to clean out the birdbath and put in fresh water and she kept the hummingbird feeder filled and she determined to chase away the feral cats in the yard to keep them from stalking the birds.
At the merest sight of a cat, she rushed out as if she too had wings, all the while yelling or hissing at the cats and the yard erupted in the black and gray blur of running cats and a great cloud of bird wings rose from the grass to the fence and to the trees where they squawked loudly at the whole commotion. These days, Mother has lost her wings and her movements are slow and ponderous, punctuated by her cane’s thunk and the times she gets outside are fewer, face it bud, it happens to the best of us, but this doesn’t change her worry, know what I mean?
No, what happens now, if you get what I’m saying, is, now she frets and fusses and tries to hiss at the cats through the window or bangs on the wood part of the back door to scare them off. Or, she does try to slowly get outside and I’m sitting there, trying to write, and I’m thinking, how can I write with all this going on around me? Is this part of the test of being a writer, being forced to find the concentration amid all the distractions?
I resist the urge to try to take over the task for her, resist trying to alleviate her stress, to make her situation better. In truth, she’s the only one who can decide to let go of the things that make her nuts. I can’t fix that for her, so I am resolved I will not let her stresses make me nuts. I let go. I envision the hummingbird and I take flight. I will fly unafraid as on the wings of a writer.