I stumbled over these photos this week. They were taken ten years ago in Colorado. I was at a family reunion and my adopted cousin, who is Native American, had wandered away from the conversation to stand below a hummingbird feeder. As we watched, he slowly raised his arm and held a finger just below a hovering bird. After a minute, the bird stopped flapping and rested on my cousin’s finger, still drinking from the feeder.
Our conversation stopped as we watched. I think we were all amazed, and maybe each having our own version of a racist and clichéd thought regarding our Native American brothers and sisters and what we have to learn from them regarding the natural world that surrounds us.
Just then, the bird took flight and my cousin turned to us and said, “I guess I shouldn’t have done that. I’m lucky he didn’t shit on me.”
Of course, then we all had to try. It wasn’t difficult; it just took a little patience. I managed to get a few to land on my finger, but one in particular was content to hang out for a while.
After a while, some children saw us and wanted to try. Of course they lacked the patience to stay still and silent for more than a few seconds, and started leaping at the birds to grab at the blurry wings. Their parents corrected them but I regretted having done it in the first place and giving the kids a bad idea. The birds didn’t need the adults to interfere, though. They avoided any potential tragedy by taking off altogether and that was the end of that.
I think about this moment fairly often, actually. Not the regret or the children swatting at the tiny birds with their pink meaty hands. But the magic moment before when the nearly weightless bird came to rest on my skin for no reason except that I offered it to him.
It is a good memory and the discovery of the photos makes me very happy. It was a strange week of cold wind and snow arriving unexpectedly to cover the up all signs of spring, so looking at these has me excited about the warm weather around the corner. It’s coming. It just takes a little patience.