My hummingbird friends descend upon my garden landscape each spring, or like clockwork with the advent of April, having journeyed more than a thousand miles from their winter feeding grounds to the south or in Mexico.
They stay with me, these ruby throated aerial acrobats, until the first week of October when days of shortened light signal them to begin their return journey.
Often less than 6 inches in length, they’re among the most intrepid of birds, aggressive even among their own, and quite capable of speeds up to 60 mph.
Occasionally, I sometimes think of them as analogous to helicopters, able to both hover and fly backwards.
While they’re with me, I try to help them find food by providing a red feeder for them filled with my home brew of four parts water to one part sugar.
I last saw my sojourners on October 2, darting their bills vehemently into their liquid brew fattening themselves for their exodus to warmer feeding grounds.
Like the falling leaves, their departure is one of nature’s ritual markers of coming frost and winter’s inevitability.
I worry about them.
Climate change has resulted in flowering plants now often blooming up to three weeks before their arrival to rest and feed in an area, before resuming their spring journey north, meaning a loss of nectar and the risk of starvation.
And then there’s that constant of diminishing habitat, pesticides, and invasive species.
Although Spring brings joy with its warming temperatures and a regenerating landscape, our world around us is rapidly entering into a new phase and perhaps some future spring they, like butterflies and bees, will no longer be part of that spring, inflicting a hovering silence with their absence..
Meanwhile, I hope to supplement their well-being while they’re with me, adding plants like penstemon, cardinal flower, bee balm, coralbell, and scarlet sage to next year’s garden.
Their departure always saddens me, not helped by increasing somber gray skies, brisk temperatures, and a waning landscape.
But then, such are nature’s rhythms, and even our own, that every beginning has its ending, with wisdom teaching us to value each moment in a cosmos of impermanence.