Friday, May 28, 2004


I just found a dead hummingbird on the bench 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.

I found a dead hummingbird on the deck, his wings out 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 still shimmer in the sun. His black bead bright eyes were flat and empty, his tiny claws curled as if still on the feeder perch. I stroked his wings and soft little body, marveling at the softness and perfection of each little feather. His thread-like tongue stuck thru 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 buzzing around the feeder. Maybe they noticed their companion after all and out of fear or respect or animal intelligence curtailed their usually frenzied quarreling over sugar syrup.

I found a dead hummingbird on the deck.

Planning to repot some seedlings, I gathered the new clay pot, my trowel, two peat pots containing butternut squash and cayenne, a flat of 72 cells full of flowers, seedlings, and seeds, 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, 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 still has a purpose. He fertilizes my seedlings and plants, ensuring their growth and flourishing. And although his beauty and perfection no longer brighten my view, he will always brighten my heart and my home as he returns to his place in the cycle of life, fulfilling yet another purpose.

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