Friday, July 31, 2009

Hummer Time!

Sorry to disappoint, but this post concerns ruby throats of the avian variety. Every spring the hummingbirds return to our neighborhood from wherever it is that they spend the winter, and after about a month they disappear again. I'm not sure where they go. My crazy birdwatching friend (come on, you've probably got one, too) says that they go "to the country", whatever that means.

And every year, about this time, they return. From the country, I guess. It starts with one or two, and the population steadily expands until they are ready to make their long flight over the Gulf of Mexico to wherever it is that they spend the winter. By the middle of September we may have a couple of dozen of the impossibly cute and pesky little things fighting over the feeders and buzzing anyone who happens outside. And then one day they are all gone until next year.

Much like the first cool breeze or the ripening of fruit in parts north of here, the hummers returning is a promise of summer's end. We still have at least two months of temperatures in the 90's, and two more before anything resembling cold weather arrives, but the promise is given. The days are growing shorter, the kids are preparing to return to school, and the big clock of the seasons climbs toward another midnight.

Like fall, hummer time inspires melancholy and reflection in me. Autumn is my favorite time of year, but the dark side is part of what gives it the richness that I like so much . Another year is on the downhill slide. The life of summer retreats, and for those with real seasons, falling leaves rattle like bones, the wildlife hunker down or flee to their winter places. It's a time for sweaters, pumpkins, firewood and quiet acknowledgment of winter approaching.

The first hummer came to the window this past weekend, asking to be fed. I had to displace a wasp nest from the goldfinch feeder I never took down last winter*, but after a little drama the little guy and his partner are settled in. I assume his friends will be along shortly.

I have lived too long and my life is too sweet to wish away any of these summer days. So I will enjoy the the 95 degree heat and humidity and afternoon rains as best I can. But I'm still glad to see the hummingbirds return.

* Don't judge. I've been busy.


  1. i haven't noticed any migratory patterns yet, but i've only been in my new place for a year. and i LOVE seeing the hummers sample the hibiscus on my deck!

  2. For me, the summer is fun and all, but I'm much more devoted to fall and winter. Winter, winter, winter.