Went on vacation last week and upon returning, a discovery that only the female hummers come to my feeders now. Quite possibly, the fiery-throated males have migrated to central Mexico or Panama. —How I miss them. These females are suddenly voracious drinkers…preparation?
Previously, the sugar water in the feeders lasted several days until I had to change it to keep it from fermenting in the high heat, i.e, avoiding drunk hummingbirds. Now the feeders are drained in a day and half. Males migrate first…maybe these females really are stocking up. I have also read that in some parts of North Carolina, hummingbirds occasionally remain in residence all year. Time will tell…in the meantime, the feeders stay out until I see them no more.
Do you remember how it stormed on that long-ago morning and your mother cried because it was raining on your wedding day?
Do you remember that the ceremony was over in ten minutes (my aunt looked at her watch)?
Do you remember how hot it was during the eternal photographing (especially having to wear a black tux with tails in August) and how much you hated that part?
Do you remember my going-away outfit that my mother made from sky-blue cotton and how I wore a big straw hat with a big white bow and that just before we said our good-byes she took off her double-strand pearlescent beads and put them around my neck?
Do you remember as we drove away from family and home and childhood toward all our new tomorrows that the rain had stopped and the sun had come out and the clouds pillared up from the horizon before us like backlit rosettes on wedding cake and you said it was all in celebration of our just being married?
I remember it all nearly four decades two sons and two granddaughters later. Even the clouds in their radiant array seem to remember today. While marriage is sometimes more blister than bliss I can tell you this: I lift my eyes to the eternal skies with a heart full of wonder and gratitude that ours has grown deeper and richer each day since we vowed I do.
The cover of our wedding album: “God has created your spirits with wings to fly in the spacious firmament of Love and Freedom.” —Kahlil Gibran
Excerpt from our wedding album, in a space commemorating the first anniversary. I wrote, at age twenty-one: “We can’t believe it’s been a year since we’ve been married, but it’s been a happy one and a good one and God has indeed blessed us well – may He bless us for many years to come and let our marriage grow deeper and richer each day.”
“At a feeder, a hummingbird extrudes and withdraws its tongue thirteen times a second. Hummingbirds do not sip nectar; they lap it. The tongue is forked, like a snake’s, with absorbent fringes along the edge of each fork…The tongue is so long that, when retracted, it extends back to the rear of the skull and then curls around to lie on top of the skull.”
—Sy Montgomery, The Hummingbirds’ Gift: Wonder, Beauty, and Renewal on Wings
Tongue of hummingbird outside my window.
The only way I can get such a photo is by videoing and going back, frame by frame, to select a still shot.
Utterly mesmerizing, these tiny creatures and the way they are designed. They have the largest brain and heart of any bird in relation to its size, plus a skullful of tongue.
Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it. – Vincent van Gogh
3D bust of the artist with light and shadows playing across his face
I spent a short while immersed in the world of Van Gogh (visiting Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience) and what I come away with is profound sense of contrasts…
-glories of nature against dark anguish of the human soul -wholesome serenity of pastoral life against psychosis and extreme loneliness -wonder at scientific evidence that a man who used so much color so brilliantly was likely color-blind
I stood in a dark room illuminated by his swirling sunflowers, floating bursts of fiery light. This is the flower most associated with happiness; the tortured artist loved them. His doctor-friend planted them on his grave.
I took a virtual journey from the bedroom at Arles past the bright wheatfields where crows lazily took flight, through the peaceful woods (Van Gogh loved long walks in the woods) into the village where fireflies danced around lampposts, to the riverside of the Rhone, where the stars gleamed above… the journey ended with rising into the stars and landing back in the bedroom at Arles where the floor, walls, bed, stand with pitcher and basin, straw hat, and strewn paint supplies materialized around me. I know Van Gogh’s famous quote about painting his dream but the quote that lingers is this: Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it.
You are so right, Vincent. So right.
And so we paint our lives.
Immersed in swirling sunflowers
3D rendering of “The Vestibule,” in the Saint Paul De Mausole Asylum
Short clip: Scenes of Van Gogh’s self-portraits set to music
I’ve loved old movies since childhood but haven’t seen many of Orson Welles’ beyondCitizen KaneandThe Magnificent Ambersons. Got caught up in watching The Stranger, The Third Man, andThe Lady from Shanghai... I guess you could say I fell under Welles’ deep, dark spell. A magical respite from the sweltering, suffocating August day.
Last day at the beach I wake far too early but I make the coffee anyway and take a cup to the top deck
I sit in the chair facing east drinking in the deepness of solitude the blessedness of silence
Earth stirs a little and sighs like a baby in its sleep
Just ahead, high over the sea Venus glitters and winks
I am the bright and morning star I know you are
My waiting soul cannot think of anything else it wants or needs as black silhouettes of pelicans fly soundlessly by against the sky pinkening with light
Sunrise signifying the end of night
My view this morning: Venus over the Atlanticjust before sunrise
Pelicans, while not in this particular shot, are plentiful here. As the sky grew lighter they appeared in silhouette, gliding gracefully against it. The pelican is an ancient symbol for Christ, often depicted in Christian art.
Revelation 22, the last chapter of the Bible, references the River and Tree of Life, the healing of the nations, the end of night, and the return of Christ with the words “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last…I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star” (13; 16).
The best I can do is to describe this morning scene. The sense of peace, so often fleeting or not to be found when Earth is wide awake and churning, was honestly too deep for words. I shall hold these moments in my mind for returning to when my soul needs more nurturing, long past summer.
—with thanks to Carol Varsalona for the theme and for hosting the Spiritual Journey writers on this first Thursday in August.
“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and, greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”
—Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea
Lindbergh’s words come back to me as I contemplate the frenzy of living and the pull of making the most of every moment, especially on vacation (how often do we say we need a vacation after returning from our vacation?). Life is not always a matter of doing, of endlessly digging for treasure…but carving out time just to be and to see what treasures may come. For they will. And we will be far less likely to miss them.