Alight

I saw  him again this evening in the back, probably the third or fourth time, always in the very early morning or just as dusk is coming.

I have floaters, so sometimes I see little black flits and flicks out of the corner of my eye, very annoying, very ubiquitous and persistent, but no, this was really him.

He darted down at a forty five degree angle from my right, then did a figure eight turn of sorts and went back from whence he came,  coming to rest on a branch blocked by another branch. I knew he was there. I couldn’t see him yet, but I knew he was there. It’s always amazing that the little guys rest at all, but rest they do. I waited.

Not a minute later he did another diagonal dive bombing run towards the single feeder to the left of the patio, which appears to be his favorite. There’s another one, fancier, with more flowery enticements all around, but no, the single one by the fence is just fine, thank you very much. He hovered, darted, hovered, darted, then landed on the red plastic lip of the feeder, looking left, then right, then left, then right, then quickly diving into the receptacle looking for the sweet, clear nectar there. In, out, in, in, in, and out again.

Satisfied, he lifted off seconds later, ruby throat and iridescent green body a magnificent tiny work of art. “God’s palette”, as one of my old high school friends would probably call the colors there. So tiny. So beautiful. Such a wondrous flying miracle of life.

He darted back to his previous perch to the right, behind the shelter of the covering branch, sat, waited, waited, then launched again. This time, he flew in a straight line across my field of vision, then seemingly stopped, a dead stop, in mid air. Not hovering, wings beating, looking from side to side, but stopped cold.

He had landed on the tiniest branch with the tiniest bare tip I have ever seen. I don’t know how he saw it or knew it was there, much less how he decided that he could go from sixty to zero, grab this tiny piece of dry, bare wood, and land on it. He did this once, twice, three times in between drinks from the nectar well.

I’m not sure why this affected me so profoundly today, but it did.

Seeing this tiny, colorful creature, in all his efficiency and speed and beauty, was profoundly moving in and of itself. To see one of these miniature birds in the wild, happily going about their business of flying and drinking and exploring and resting is something that makes you just stop and watch. It makes you happy.

Seeing him stop, on a dime, on a tiny branch that appeared to not be substantial enough to hold even his minuscule weight, and trust that he would not fall, that he could land there, made me pause. How did he know? How could he trust? What made him so sure that he would be safe there?

We go through our lives making plans, putting up fences and doors and locking things up and insuring things against loss and questioning everything and everybody. We are skeptical. We are cautious. We are…afraid.

Do you have something, someone, some belief in your life that is the tiny branch that you know without a shadow of a doubt will always hold you up? One that will always be there, that will never give way.? Do you trust that branch to be there for you, suspended in the middle of space, almost invisible to everyone else, but rock solid for you?

Nature teaches us so much, if we will only stop, look, listen, and learn. Some things are very, very difficult to understand, but not at all hard to do.

Who will you trust tomorrow?

Who will be there without fail when you find yourself suspended in midair and desperately needing a place to land?

Where will you alight?

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