Friday, August 29, 2008


I am astounded how one dog can leave an emptiness in the entire clan around here. Yes, we loved Xena dearly. She will always be "The Best Dog Ever". I didn't fathom the grief of Maggie, the cattle dog, and Buddy, the cat.

I have never experienced grief of animals for the loss of another. But then, Xena is the only dog we've ever had with us for over a decade. It's become obvious that Xena was indeed the matriarch of the other dogs and cat around here. They depended on her and they do miss her. I have no idea how long their grief will last or when they'll stop looking for her. I'll probably always "see" her in her favorite places too.

Today, as I watched the hummingbirds at their feeder I began thinking of the amazing lives they live. Partially, to keep my mind off the empty rug in the corner of the porch, partially because I realized the hummingbirds will soon leave for their Mexican destination. Of course, they don't think about it that way, but I am amazed by hummingbirds.

Here in Southern Ohio we have the Ruby-throated variety. I've been putting out feeders for humminbirds for many years now. I've read up on them and find it fascinating they return to the same feeder year after year, or at least their offspring do, if they don't make it back. I think I have around 8 flitting around at various times this year. Supposedly, if you count the number of hummingbirds at your feeder, at any one time, you can double that number to get the total head count.

Some evenings I'll sit out on the deck and watch as they zoom in and out. They're always alert, always eyeing me. At first they fly away without stopping to drink but the longer I quietly sit there, the more relaxed they become.

The males, with their bright ruby red throats, always have an air of superiority about them. I can spot a young male, even before he's grown into his ruby-red throat. They are cocky and pushy. The females, are more cautious about landing on the feeder at first. They appear more gentle as they're drinking. I often imagine where their tiny nests might be hidden. One year, #1 son did find a hummingbird nest clinging to a tree branch that had fallen to the ground. Just as tiny and delicate as the birds themselves.

I look forward every April for the arrival of the first hummingbird. I have studied migration maps and our hummingbirds are due to arrive around the end of April and they leave usually by mid-September. There's a hurricane brewing in the Gulf this year so I'm keeping watch. Will "my" hummers start migrating soon or wait? Some of them may have already left because I've noticed reduced activity at my feeder.

When I consider how far these little birds travel each April and September I am always amazed. The fact that they, and their "kids" have returned to my feeders is simply awesome. Look around, be sensitive, God is everywhere, that's what I try to remember in these days of often hectic chaos. Hummingbirds remind me of how fragile, yet strong and beauitul, life can be.

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