Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Gadsden Co. FL

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I had an incredible experience last week, in my own backyard. I keep thinking of the phrase ‘infinity in a grain of sand’, and it really did feel that way, for a brief moment of my life. My back patio is a veritable Eden in the capital region of New York. It’s due to my father’s passion for gardening, and because he put so much love into it, it draws so much life into it.

My joy of late, over this summer, has been watching the hummingbirds visit the flowers on my patio. I do believe we have two mated pairs of ruby-throated hummingbirds that have staked out my backyard, leading to some heated confrontations over the feeder. They excite me, because they’re so quick, these gilded bits of life that flit across my field of vision. it’s like seeing rainbows; for me, they bring me such a sense of pleasure. i have yet to be able to capture one with a camera; I’m just not that agile with a telephoto lens.

The past few weeks have been brightened by these little dynamos racing across my yard, visiting the feeder, the flowers, and the environs. One evening, I was in my room working on yet another jewelry project when I spotted one hovering about one of the oleanders. I watched it for a good five minutes before getting up and making my way to the patio. Carefully, I went out, moving quietly so as to not frighten away my winged visitor. It was a female this time, her back a viridescent shimmer. I knew she saw me, for she had angled her body so as to keep watch on me while she feasted on the flowers. I moved closer, trying to contain my excitement and then it happened.

My little visitor swooped right up to me, just inches away from my face and my breath caught. She regarded me with these tiny onyx bead eyes, first one side, then the other. She was so close I could hear the sound of her wings, like miniature power fans as she considered whether I was friend or foe. My heart was beating like those delicate wings, so awestruck was I by this encounter. It felt like eternity, and yet it was no more than a brief moment. It filled my whole world, my entire thoughts and yet it was just this miniscule beauty before me.

And before I knew it, it was over. She soared away, perhaps as overcome with it all as I was. I felt as if I’d been picked up, shaken vigorously, and set back down; nothing was the same. It was very like a religious experience for me, because it makes me tremble inside, my throat closes up with tears of joy. It makes me look at the world in a whole new perspective, because it wasn’t me judging this delicate creature, but vice versa. I don’t know what birdish thoughts she was having, but I’d like to think she was satisfied that I’d do her no harm. Maybe she was as curious of me as I was of her. My mind was racing as fast as her wings beat, as her heart raced. After she left me, I raced around the house, whooping with excitement because I’d never had this happen to me before, and it was simply glorious. Every moment like this is like something greater reaching into the mundane world to awaken a part of us we never knew existed. My little feathered tourist left a trail of emerald shimmer in my mind, in my dreams.