Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More Hummingbirds

summer story

When the hummingbird
sinks its face
into the trumpet vine
and the funnels

of the blossoms,
and the tongue
leaps out
and throbs,

I am scorched
to realize once again
how many small, available things
are in the world

that aren’t
pieces of gold
or power–
that nobody owns

or could buy even
for a hillside of money–
that just
float about the world,
or drift over the fields,
or into the gardens,
and into the tents of the vines
and how here I am

spending my time,
as the saying goes,
watching until the watching turns into feeling
so that I feel I am myself

a small bird
with a terrible hunger
with a thin beak probing and dipping
and a heart that races so fast

it is only a heartbeat ahead of breaking
and I am the hunger and the assuagement
and also I am the leaves and the blossoms,
and, like them, I am full of delight and shaking

~ Mary Oliver ~

There is something about hummingbirds that just brings deep joy. Here Mary Oliver talks about feeling herself to be that small bird, full if delight and shaking.  In anticipation of their arrival, I have set out my feeders and my flowers are all in bloom. These wonderful little creatures are so amazing! Their mere presence can bring me to an ecstatic state, dropping all "I" thoughts and languishing in oneness. 

I mean, did you know hummingbirds are so smart that they remember every flower they have been to and how long it will take a flower to refill! They visit an average of 1000 flower per day for nectar and eat small soft bugs for protein. 

They can fly forward, backward, hover in mid-air, fly sideways and even upside down. The average speed of a hummingbird's flight is 25-30 miles/hour and that increases to 60 miles/hour when they are diving! And how cool is this - their wings rotate in a full circle!

Hummingbirds can hear better than humans, see farther than humans, can see ultraviolet light and have no sense of smell. At night as they sleep, they go into a state called "torpor." It sounds a lot like a deep meditative state. Their metabolic rate is one-fifteenth (1/15) of normal sleep and their heart rate can drop from 250 beats/minute at rest to 50 beats.

The more I learn about these wondrous creatures, the more I agree with Mary Oliver when she says: "As for death, I can't wait to be the hummingbird, can you?" For now, though, I will simply enjoy "watching until the watching turns into feeling..." 

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