Posted on August 14, 2013
Hummingbirds have been scarce this year on the ravine. In early summer, I saw one in the butterfly bed and another in the lower garden. We experienced a veritable hummingbird drought–until August 1, the first day of my birthday month.
I had just set my laptop on the porch table and pulled out my chair, ready to fully appreciate that morning’s soft, cooling rain. For a teensy-tiny second, I heard a small roar and then he whirred past my head, a ruby-throat out of nowhere. I jumped and he lingered so I headed for the den.
“Dave, a hummingbird just buzzed me. Look, I have chill-bumps all over my arms.”
He glanced up from the newspaper. “You’re kidding.”
Dave was in his third week of jury duty for a medical malpractice suit. He calculated only a few minutes to walk Murphy, shower, and head downtown for the day.
“Maybe it’s my red shirt,” I said.
“Maybe he’s telling you to put some new stuff in the feeders.”
“Yeah, I’m doing that right now.” I quickly brought the sugar solution to a boil, turned the flame off, and set the pot aside to cool. From the kitchen window, I watched chickadees and purple finches on every seed feeder. “Those gluttonous little birds in the back yard are telling me it’s time to re-fill their feeders. They seem to like to eat when it rains.”
Time to make Dave’s lunch, so I set out all the makings and gave him choices. I enjoyed that new task. This was the first time I’d sent Dave “off to work”.
“Pita?” I asked. The day before he ate leftover rolls from Sunday’s dinner at Demo’s.
“Celery sticks?” He could have had carrots.
I threw in four cherry tomatoes from my plant in the mini-rose garden and five grape-sized from Dad’s overloaded bush at the edge of the vegetables.
“Potato sticks or cheese poufs?”
“Ummm, cheese poufs.” He folded the paper. “What kind of bag are you going to use to hold the brownies?”
When Dave said that the other jurors were bringing treats, I offered my specialty. He informed his new friends on Monday that Wednesday was his day. I baked four pans of brownies, two for the jurors and two for “the court”, two with nuts, two sans.
“They’re in the bag already. I’ve put cardboard between the pans and I tied the handles so you won’t tilt them.”
Murphy didn’t appear ready to rise and it was still raining so I said I would walk her when the showers stopped.
I went back to the porch to watch for the cardinal pair that visits something on the porch every morning. Mama saw me and chattered away. Papa landed on a rail not too far away from the missus and they both gave a look that labeled me as an intruder.
I gathered up Murphy for her first walk and unfurled the garden flag as we headed down the ramp. We stayed on the porch for a few minutes when we returned. I watched seven–seven!–hummingbirds fighting and squawking at each other on the neighbor’s deck.
August 14, 8 A.M. 64 degrees on the porch. Sixty-four. I had to find a sweater.
I know I should be in the gardens. There are crape myrtles to prune, ground ivy to eradicate, and birds to be fed. I’ve watched the hummingbirds for almost an hour now. Their favorite meal this year comes from the elegant, artsy, two-glass bottle feeder, a gift from Sandee and Bob. I’m surprised that they prefer the gorgeous to the crusty old standard. I keep trying to snap a photo with my phone. I need to give up. They’re too quick for me.
They buzz and swoop to the curly willow tree to hide from each other, or maybe just to rest before the next chase, and the tiniest stem on the branch only gives a centimeter when one lands.
Just fifteen days ago, I didn’t think we’d see hummingbirds this year. What a birthday-month surprise!
Dave’s juror buddies loved the brownies. Some of them told him they were the best brownies they’ve ever eaten. They even told Dave to ask me if I would give out my recipe.
I laughed and said, “Won’t they be surprised to find out I use that Hershey’s mix from Sam’s?”
The next day he told them my recipe was an old family secret and I just couldn’t let them have it. I am always surprised when somebody buys that story.