Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sister's visit, day 2: Till death do us part

I've spent the morning corralling the snails I just plucked out of my potted plants. I can't bring myself to kill them, and I can't bring myself to set them free into someone else's yard. So I'm trying to keep them in one place until I figure out what to do with them. And boy, those little suckers are surprisingly fast. Corralling them whilst weeding, pruning, and fertilizing has proven to be unexpectedly tiring work, let me tell you.

Which is why I'm taking a welcome break from my snail exploits to tell you about the hummingbird escapade my sister and I experienced this weekend. Hopefully my snail corralling story hasn't over-taxed your adrenal glands thus far. Because this hummingbird tale is packed with gripping twists and turns.

What can I say, wild adventure follows me everywhere I go.

It all started the morning after our toast to God's goodness. Rebecca and I headed to south Orange County, to my friend J's house, where we met up with a group for an afternoon hike.

While we waited for everyone to arrive, J, my sister, and I chatted, enjoying the cool, morning breeze that wafted through the open front door.

"This morning I was driving with the windows down," J said, "And I found myself thinking about how random it would be if a bird flew into the car while I was driving."

I opened my mouth to agree that yes, it would be random, but was interrupted by the whir of a hummingbird's wings, as he zipped in the open front door and into the living room.

Life, I tell ya. It is such a practical jokester.

"Arghh!" I yelled, as I flew off the couch and sprinted to the next room, where a sturdy wall could protect me from the sharpest, fastest-moving beak in the animal kingdom. Sister remained in the living room to face the killer beak.

After a few moments, I cautiously peered around the corner and watched while J tried to corner the little bugger.

But he wouldn't be cornered. He was determined to find his own way back to the great outdoors. Up and down he darted, flying full force into the window (that has got to be a metaphor for something), until he finally flew to the skylight at the highest point of the vaulted ceiling.

We were flummoxed, but still determined; this was a quandary that wouldn't get the better of us. J recognized this hummingbird as one he's watched grow from an egg in the back yard to a speedy, curious teenager, and we would save him, yes we would.

So the boys got up on high ledges and waved brooms around. They balanced honey a bowl of honey on a light affixed to the wall. They called the bird, whistled, and waved their arms frantically.

And then, just when things were looking hopeless, my friend, K, charged into the kitchen on a mission, and did what no problem-solving man in a hummingbird crisis has ever done before: he poured taco seasoning into a bowl of water, pulled saran wrap loosely over the water, put honey water on top of the saran wrap, and set the bowl on the floor under the skylight.

"The plan," he said, "is for the hummingbird to look down, see the bright spices on the bottom of the bowl, think it's a flower, and come down for honey water."

At that point, we had plumbed the creative depths of hummingbird rescue techniques, and there was nothing left to be done. So we showered hopeful wishes upon the bowl of taco seasoning, and left for our hike.

It was a glorious hike. The rain the day before had scoured the air, the breeze carried the smell of moist earth and orange blossoms, and the ocean sparkled like the eastern sea at Cair Paravel.

But still, we couldn't forget about the hummingbird whom we'd decided to call Harold. And so it was with anxiety that we returned from our post-hike dinner, and rushed inside, hoping to see Harold calming drinking honey water from his taco seasoning flower.

But instead we found him laying on the floor, cold and still. In the end, his fixation with the skylight was his demise. Which is also a metaphor for something; although we were too sorrowful to figure out for what. No doubt it is a very macabre metaphor. Edgar Allen Poe would know what to do with it.

What we did know, was that there was only thing left to do for poor Harold: give him a funeral fit for a curious, speedy, light-loving, teenage hummingbird.

So we carried Harry in a candlelight procession to the rose garden, with "Quatre petites prières de Saint François d'Assise" playing on J's iphone:

While the music droned, we solemnly dug Harry a small grave, and dropped little tokens of our care for him into it.

Once the grave was covered, we had a moment of silence, after which J's iphone began to play "My Girl." And although Harold was named Harold, there is a good chance Harold was a girl, so we sang the song for her.

You were our sunshine on a cloudy day
when you got trapped, you went awaaay...

Or something like that.

And then, just as the song crescendoed into the chorus, we got back in our line, and danced into the house, like the California Raisins at the end of their Christmas special. 

Harry would have been proud of the funeral we gave him, I think. And if his family was hiding in the bushes watching, I think they would have been touched.

So it was with confidence that we went dancing later that night, and spun and dipped our sorrows away.

And that, my friends, is how my sister and I spent day two of our sisters' weekend.

© by scj

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