Friday, May 21, 2004

Hummingbird thoughts

Writing is like catching a hummingbird in your hand or on film sometimes, but if you stand still for a moment the ideas and the hummingbirds come.

I took my tea out onto the deck just to feel the sunshine on my face and heard the wind rushing thru the trees. It was a little chilly at first, but soon the sun warmed me while I drank and read and wrote. I probably should have been editing (no, I know I should have been editing), but I needed the fresh air untainted by frustration and every day stuff and I wanted to see the hummingbirds feed without a window between us.

I didn't think the hummingbirds would come, but their greed for sugar syrup obviously outweighs their fear. While I read and drank and wrote in my journal, they buzzed in, their wings chirr-whirring, the locust buzz of their flight punctuated by chirps. I've seen them in books and on television, but never really up close. They are tiny marvels of feather and flight and perfection. Their needle thin beaks are nearly half as long as their bodies. I wanted to reach out and have them land on my hand so I could see them up close, marvel at their petite feathery perfection, but I knew they wouldn't come that close.

Mom suggested getting pictures, especially since I got four hummingbirds at the feeder at the same time last night. The numbers are growing and I can't wait until my seedlings are flowering and I can watch them buzz among the brilliant flowers.

Not knowing whether they would come back if I stood close enough to the feeder to catch them on film, I decided to give it a try anyway. What's the worst that could happen? I stand out there and soak up the sun while mountain breezes shushed thru the trees? Not such a bad way to spend a few moments out of time.

When I stepped back onto the deck, camera in hand, two hummingbirds were whirring about the feeder. They darted off like tiny emerald elf arrows and I moved closer to the feeder, barely three inches away. I didn't have to wait long before they came back, their hunger outweighing their fear. I snapped some pictures and with each click they arrowed away. I waited. They came back. I snapped some more pictures until my camera gave a slow whine and began to rewind.

If it worked once, it could work again.

I went inside, put more film in the camera, and ventured back onto the deck inches from the feeder. They came back, one at a time at first, and then by twos. I'm sure some of the shots are blurry since the hummingbirds flit away every time the shutter clicks, but eventually they stayed and drank while I took more pictures. I should have about 25 or so and I hope they come out.

It all made me think about writing, about how ideas flutter close enough to see the individual letters and words and just as you reach out to catch them they're gone. Hummingbird thoughts. That's what I'll call them. But they can be caught. They will land if you stand still long enough and wait.

Just like the idea of a chapbook or a collection of vignettes and essays and poems with pictures of animals, insects, plants, and birds to go along with them: Cabin Dreams.

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