Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Flying Gems - The Hummers of Summer

I miss my little hummingbirds. I finally took their feeder down today, though they’ve been gone for a couple of weeks. 

Their departure signals the end of summer, and that has been difficult for me to accept this year. Once again, summer has passed by much too quickly. 

Do you enjoy watching these little feathered friends throughout the summer? We have a feeder hanging by our kitchen window, and the whole family enjoys our little summer neighbors.

Blooms of my Hosta 'Guacamole'
With their antics and boundless energy, these tiny friends entertain us throughout the summer. I love to watch them inspect my petunia baskets, thoroughly checking out each flower for nectar. 

When my larger hostas bloom with their bell-shaped flowers, the hummers almost disappear inside the blooms. Even the tiny coral bells offer something pleasing for their palate.

Do your hummingbirds come and say hello, or even goodbye? I get to know the little family who shares our feeder each year, and if I am outside near their feeder, they act somewhat surprised to see me, although they seem to know who I am.

Raspberry Blast Petunia
I am the flower lady who plants bountiful gardens of blossoms for them to enjoy; and I am the one who refills their feeder with fresh sugar water for their sustenance. Yes, they know me, and they are not afraid of me.

At the end of the season, one of these little flying gems will come right up to the window, looking directly inside, usually at my office window on the other side of the house. My little friend will hover, looking into the window, and seems to be saying goodbye.
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

They do this every year, and I am always awed by their presence. They never seem to be afraid of me. While it is bittersweet farewell, I treasure that they know me and I fancy that they are saying thank you for the lovely summer gardens and sweets. And too soon, they are gone.

Autumn leaves are falling, and our seasons are changing once again. I miss my tiny friends, but I know next May I will place my feeder out with fresh sugar water, and once again these delicate beauties will grace us with their presence. It wouldn’t be summer without them!


Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Let me share a story of my personal encounters with hummingbirds. I’ve actually gotten to hold these tiny creatures in my hands, not once, but twice! 

The first time was when we lived in Oregon, and one got trapped up by the skylight in the outdoor breezeway. It was twilight and this poor little guy was franticly trying to find a way back to the sky!

Fearful that he might harm himself attempting to escape, I got a ladder and climbed up to carefully catch him in my hands.

I stood on the patio, incredulously holding this tiny creature in my hand; two species not normally in direct physical contact. He felt practically weightless, and I could feel his tiny heart beating so fast. With a soft whir of his wings, he was gone. But the gift of holding that tiny life in my hand was indescribable, and I will never forget it.

Fast forward fifteen years or so, to our home here in Wisconsin. My husband saw that the cat had something out in the yard. When he approached, a chipmunk freed himself and ran off. But he noticed something bright green in the grass, and it was a hummingbird!

We don’t know how this tiny bird got to be there in this mix of animals, lying in the grass. He rescued the tiny bird and brought him to me. I held him for awhile, and he began to perk up.

Baby Hummingbird on a branch. So tiny!
As we had just made fresh sugar water for the feeder, my boys suggested we get some for the little bird. We filled a small medicine cup, and encouraged him to drink. Before long the little guy was perched on the side of the cup drinking the nectar. After a few minutes, he felt stronger, and soon, with a whir of wings he flew away.

Once again I felt awed at the rare opportunity to commune with this delicate species that live with us for the months of summer. I will never forget how it felt to hold these tiny creatures, and I feel privileged for having had the experience not once, but twice!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What Happened to Summer?

Close-up of Verbena, one of my favorite summer annuals
How is it possible that summer has come and gone, and I haven't gotten to share my gardens with you? Oh yeah, I run a landscaping business and a busy household. No excuses! So I'll start by sharing some pictures here.

I would be willing to bet that you will agree with me that SUMMER WENT TOO DARNED FAST!! 

While I hold onto my impatiens as long as I can and keep watering petunias that I should have let go long ago, my tomato plants continue to produce bounty, and we keep enjoying it!

'Nora Leigh' Phlox
These last few days have been absolutely gorgeous, the kind of September that Wisconsinites dream about. The sun brings heat through blue skies, but you don't have to look far to see Autumn creeping in. Tinges of yellows and even reds are beginning to peek through, though for the most part we still savor our green palette of summer adorning the tree-covered hills. This soon will change.

The forerunners of color-change are already among us, and there's no turning back. Many of the ash trees on our property have already lost their leaves. They're always early to lose leaves and late to leaf out. That's just their style. But the crunch on the driveway lets me know that the inevitable change of seasons is here, so we might as well embrace it. 

I've always loved Fall. As a little girl, the smell of Fall brought the crunch of leaves and made for a fun season. I loved raking leaf piles and jumping into them, and then laying in the warm sun, letting my imagination take me far away.

I still love Fall, but with the maturity of many seasons behind me, I know that the beautiful hues of Autumn lead to the snow and cold of winter. Not that I mind winter. It's just that it LASTS TOO DARN LONG in Wisconsin. But I digress...

Savor the season you are in.  

Summer glided by on the wings of butterflies and hummingbirds, but as Autumn approaches, we now ride the winds of change.

Change can be for the better, or sometimes for the worse, but one thing is for certain. Nature guides us in displaying that change is a constant in our lives, and we had better learn to go with the flow. Hopefully, our transitions may lead us into new beginnings.

Somewhat reluctantly, I will bring out a few Fall accents to decorate our home. But first, I have a bird bath to clean and plants outside that still require regular watering. 

I hope you are enjoying these last days of our summer-turned Autumn. The promise of pumpkin pies and apple cider and nights around a fire sound inviting, but for now, my rose bush is still blooming and soaking up the sun. Therefore, so am I.