This morning I swore I heard a hummingbird. Twice.
One of the things I left when I left the mountain were the hummers. For ten years, I harvested buckets of joy on the day when mid-April I first heard their trill. Part of my happiness was that the return of tiny birds meant the end of winter up high and longer, warmer days punctuated by deliciously cool evenings spent on the deck with a glass of wine, the iridescent creatures whirring overhead. The other, perhaps greater, part of my delight lies in the fact that such delicate beauty exists in the world.
Hummingbirds are magic: The sound of summer is the sound of those birds zipping across the mountain and it makes my heart bloom.
When I heard what I thought I heard this morning, it was as if the world in all its unknowable possibility was ringing its bell. I realize that part of the transition for me in leaving the mountain was to carefully catalog the things I loved up there and stuff them in a box labeled “What makes me happy” and lock them away in a closet inside my chest. In fine print under the label it said “Things I sacrificed to make a home with Greg.”
When I heard the hummer’s trill this morning, the closet door swung open.
Abruptly, I left the essay I was working on and went out to the garage. My hummingbird feeders have been packed away all summer, more evidence of “my sacrifice.” Carefully, I cleaned two feeders and filled them with sugar water. Greg left a watercolor in his studio to help me hang them in the yard, despite the fact that he “had good momentum” on the piece. He stopped to help because he knows how much I love hummingbirds.
Each day you spend with someone you love is full of a thousand tiny sacrifices—the cords that knit you together, not the stones that wall you apart.
Loving is an act of faith. And faith works best when it’s left to float gently in air, like those feeders hanging from ash and lilac in the yard. It’s time for me to unpack that box I’ve kept as ammunition, a hedge against the bet of committing my life to another’s or believing that happiness is site- or condition-specific.
Greg and I might not see a hummingbird this year, but I am delighted as I was on those April days when I watched, holding breath, for the first scarlet and green in the woods. And those feeders are my reminder that there’s also a delicate beauty to this life I’ve chosen with Greg–one with more possibility than I could ever imagine, one still ripe with the pleasure of surprise.
Check back for more acts of faith: Part 2, The Garden.
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