Monday, September 17, 2012


Did you ever hold a hummingbird in your hand?  It's an amazing sensation.  The creature is so wondrously tiny, so feather-light, it's almost like there's nothing there at all.  And yet it is so full of life.

It happened yesterday.  I had just started to make the morning coffee in the kitchen when I heard these frantic fluttering sounds against the window pane.  The hummer had flown in through one of the open side panels of the window box and had been unable to find its way out again.  It could see the garden through the glass but found itself trapped behind the invisible barrier.  There it was, its wings and back a lovely iridescent blue-green peacock sheen, its pin-prick eyes glinting in the sunlight, its beak a needle point.  Breathtakingly delicate, immaculately made.

The bird must have been aware of me, because it came to rest, wings spread, at the bottom of the window pane, by the kitchen counter, when I reached over in the attempt to rescue it.  It was almost as though this little being were aware that I was trying to help and had decided to entrust its life to me.  No resistance, then.  I closed my hand around its fragile body and felt it there, at rest, barely perceptible and yet urgently alive.  The picture, sadly, fails to capture it...

I went out to the garden and raised my hand to release my little friend, and was astonished at the speed with which he zipped out, making a beeline for the nearest treetop, where he came to rest and perched a while, gazing down at his rescuer with what I chose to believe was relief and gratitude.  

It seems almost absurd, with a creature so tiny, to sense the whole episode as an encounter with the wild.  But that's how I felt.  It was a special joy and a privilege for this large, clumsy, and at least semi-conscious being to have been so closely in touch with a creature that somehow represented the essence of life itself, a distillation of everything that is miraculous and beautiful about what we share in being in the world. 

It was as though I had held life itself in my hand.

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