One of the best parts of traveling to the mountains in the summer is the chance to enjoy hummingbirds. I can sit for hours watching those feisty little guys zipping to and from feeders that dangle from every possible eave.
In years past, motivated by hummers we saw in the mountains, we came home to hang our own feeder. We usually did this in late July or early August, and all we got for our trouble was a wasp or ant invasion. As a result, I cleaned out the feeders and buried them in the camping box, thinking I would use them only in the mountains.
A few autumns ago, I attended an auction in McCracken, and as I drove through that little hamlet, I noticed hummingbird feeders hanging in several yards. When I ran into familiar folks, I asked about the feeders and one lady told me that hummingbirds pass this way on their fall southward migration. I should’ve raced directly home to hang my feeder, but my brain was on overload, and I forgot.
Like many people, I remember stuff when I cannot use it, and each October I think I should’ve put the feeder out in late August. This year, we got a gentle reminder. My husband and youngest daughter happened to walk out the back door as a ruby-throated hummingbird sampled petunias blooming on the patio.
When I returned from North Dakota, where hummers visit throughout summer, my family eagerly recounted the recent ruby throat visit. With that kind of inspiration, I raced to the basement to dig the hummingbird feeder out of the camping box. Then I concocted a sugar solution. My husband suspended the feeder so we could watch hummers as we worked in the kitchen.
For several days, we never saw a hummingbird or heard its whirring wings as it jetted from branch to branch. I thought I’d missed the one and only hummer to visit our neighborhood. But, the solution in the feeder kept dropping, and I knew evaporation couldn’t account for every missing ounce.
Finally, I heard the hoped for words. “Karen, you have a hummer!” I crept quietly to the kitchen window just as the tiny bird flashed away. Darn! A few hours later persistence paid off, and I caught the little guy sipping delicately from our red plastic blooms.
As a youngster, I hated losing summer and all its enchantment. But, now, as the earth rotates into that 33 degree tilt that tints late summer and early fall days with a golden hue, I look forward to visits from migrating hummers. Once the sun shifts from its summer to autumnal position, my ears listen for whirring wings playing one of summer’s final songs. I catch myself watching late blooming flowers, hoping to capture one of summer’s last magical moments.