With just three hours to spare, I decided to revamp my post on my little dead hummingbird and sent it in to the Power of Purpose contest. I won't know the results until September, but I am okay with my entry. It is more important that I did it than that it wins first prize, although even last prize would be nice. I could handle an influx of $10,000 any day of the week.
So here it is...and without any further ado.
I found a dead hummingbird on the deck. It was a male, and most likely the sassy bold little male who determines who does and does not get to share the feeder. He lay on the bench, little wings outspread, tail feathers splayed as if soaring on the wind.
I took his tiny body in my hands, marveling at the still brilliant iridescence of his ruby and gold throat and his dragon scale feathers shimmering in the sun. His bead bright black eyes were flat and empty, his tiny claws curled as if still on the feeder perch. I stroked his wings and soft little body, amazed at the softness and perfection of each little feather. His thread-like tongue stuck through his needle beak, hard and unyielding, not the pliant whip made to sip nectar and sugar syrup.
The other hummingbirds darted and whistled about the feeder, seemingly oblivious to their silent friend. As I picked him up, hummingbirds descended from everywhere, squabbling and whistling and knocking each other off perches. Maybe they noticed their companion after all and out of fear or respect or animal intelligence curtailed their usually frenzied quarreling over sugar syrup.
Planning to repot some seedlings, I gathered a new clay pot, my trowel, two peat pots containing butternut squash and cayenne seedlings, a flat of 72 cells full of flowers, herbs, and food plants, and took them outside. At the foot of the stairs to the deck, I picked up two pieces of pink marble to cover the drain hole and began to fill the new pot with rich, loamy organic soil. Once it was halfway full, I gently placed the perfect tiny body of the hummingbird and covered him with more earth. To fling him into the woods or bury him in the yard seemed wrong, unfair. Instead, his little body will go back to the earth and nourish the seedlings and plants while the other hummingbirds arrow down from the deep blue sky to drink a little nectar and spread pollen to each new flower, giving him a new purpose.
I found a dead hummingbird on the deck, a ruby-throated male that once carried pollen and seeds from flower and tree to ensure the next generation. Bright colors and sweet nectar called him from his busy rounds to visit and take a little of their essence with him as he buzzed and darted throughout the day. He gave me joy and beauty and laughter, but he still has a purpose. He fertilizes my seedlings and plants, ensuring they will flourish and provide me with beauty to see and food to eat. Although he no longer brightens my view with his sparkling feathers and whistling cries as he darts through the sky, little wings ceaselessly beating, he will always brighten my heart and my home as he returns to his place in the cycle of life. With each new leaf, flower and fruit that grows from his grave, he reminds me it is the small purposes that must be fulfilled first. They serve as the bedrock upon which all is built and without which nothing is possible.