Hummingbirds: The remembrance of things past

The first hummingbird showed up this morning. They usually arrive around the equinox, so by my reckoning, this one’s about two weeks early. I regard this as confirmation that, in the lovely words of the Song of Solomon, “For lo, the winter is gone from the land.” The birds understand these things far better than what Ben calls “the weather liars” (pretty rude, but probably not totally inaccurate). If the birds say it’s spring and time to return north, it’s spring. I haven’t seen any swallows yet, but they can’t be too far behind.

I wish I knew how birds navigate. For the entire three years we had a great feral cat, I didn’t put the feeder out. It seemed something more than cruel to hang it about 30 inches above his favorite seat on the deck. But they still came lookiing for it. When Lonesome George met his untimely end trying to boss a coyote around, I put the feeder back.

This morning’s little guy could tell at a glance that the feeder wasn’t where it should be, so he came right up to the deck where Ben and I were talking and hovered to get our attention. Once he was sure he had it, he flew off. So I had to do the emergency hummingbird food routine, boiling the syrup and giving it a quick cool in a sink full of cold water. The wood stove was going because I’m baking bread today, so the timing was great. Then I had to figure out where I stored the feeder. This should not have been difficult. I found at least six places where it would have made sense to store it, but it wasn’t in any of them. But with due diligence, it finally surfaced. Now it’s hanging, complete with fresh syrup, where it belongs.

In between assorted tasks this morning I picked up an old (2002) copy of Hedgehog Review and stqarted thumbing through it. I wish I had discovered it before Fishtrap. The theme of this issue is “Individualism,” and there are some great pieces and some back and forth discussion on the conflicts between liberty and equality. One essay in particular focuses on Toqueville’s Democracy in America, his writings about the interesting “American experiment” going on in the 19th century. This writer is so often quoted by both liberals and conservatives as supporting their “enlightened” positions on social structure and the role of government that it seems very clear that none of them have actually read and understood the book. There’s a great deal here to explain why our social aims and opinion of government keep swinging back and forth like a pendulum.

There’s also an interesting piece on the role of the Puritans in forming our social norms. This piece is accompanied by three others–rebuttals, explications, and other high-falooting (sp?) discourse.

Tonight Ben will get his favorite white bean soup with homemade bread. The beans are soaked, the ham hock simmered, the first batch of bread on its final rise (I had to do two because the first one always disappears with the soup).

Almost all is well in the world, at least at the moment.

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3 Responses to “Hummingbirds: The remembrance of things past”

  1. wildiris Says:

    We kept a feeder for years, and the hummingbirds seem so intelligent, finding ways to let us know when it’s time to fill it.

  2. mklekacz Says:

    Ben has had them come down to the garden, a couple of hundred yards from the house and feeder, and chew him out for letting the feeder get empty. They are quite capable of communicating their outrage. . .He calls them our new welfare class.

  3. ombudsben Says:

    Hummers are so cantankerous and inexplicable! We’ve tried to feed them, but they don’t seen to like what we’ve put out — they love a neighbor’s bottlebrush plant at my mother-in-law’s house, however.

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