My humming amigos

THE FIRST TIME I recall seeing a hummingbird was one morning as I was sitting on the porch of a cabin at a Unitarian retreat center in the mountains of North Carolina. A hummer paused briefly at a bloom not far off. It was exciting.

Years later, after I purchased a ranch house in Houston, Texas, I discovered that hummers migrated through the area every Spring — or was it Autumn? I hung a red, plastic feeder in the backyard, and they were frequent visitors. I liked that a lot.

Hummers don’t much like one another. They are fond of brawling, but there are exceptions. Once I visited Ramsey Canyon in southeastern Arizona. Good Lord! There were hummers all over the place, scores, maybe hundreds, sitting side by side on tree branches just as peaceful as you please. Maybe they were nectar-drunk.

Even more years later, I found myself atop another mountain, here where the Hacienda sits, and there are hummers in residence. No feeders required. Hummingbirds are in the yard all year. Maybe they take a break in the winter. My attention can wander.

hummerOur huge aloe vera plants put out big, orange blooms. The red-hot pokers are hummer favorites too, plus other flowers of spring and summer. All I have to do is sit atop a rocker on the downstairs veranda or on a web chair out on the yard patio, and there they are, foraging hummingbirds.

Back at the Houston ranch house, high on a backyard tree, I installed a bat house I’d purchased from Bat Conservation International. I knew there were bats in the neighborhood because summertime night walks down the street would show their presence as they flitted in and out of the lights atop the street poles.

But not one ever moved into my bat house, which I’d bought with good money.

Here at the Hacienda, however, we have bats. They live in the clay roof tiles of the downstairs veranda, leaving their bat poop on the ceramic floor in certain corners and flying out, sometimes quite near my head, at dusk. Whoosh!

I don’t know which I like better, bats or hummers. Maybe it’s a draw.

Cool, golden nights of waning summer

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Outside, of course. Yesterday.

JUST TODAY and tomorrow remain of summer.

Autumn starts Saturday.

Typically for this date, we have lots of flowers and good smells, which attracts hummingbirds. They occasionally get so excited they bump into windows. I’ve never seen one dead or stunned on the ground so they must possess hard heads.

Here again are shots of our golden datura, the one that sits just outside the bedroom window. When the window is open, which it is when it’s not too cold, the datura aroma enters the bedroom. This is a sweet way to sleep.

In three or four months, the first overnight freeze will deliver a withering blow to this bush, and I’ll cut it back to a nub of a trunk. But not to worry! It’ll rejuvenate itself next Spring. The cycle of life.

It’s good to live this way.

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From inside the bedroom. Also yesterday.

Summer is a good time

aloe
The aloe vera that soon will be larger than the house.

SUMMER STARTED a week ago officially, but it actually started hereabouts some weeks back, the real summer. When it started to rain.

I was walking up the Romance Sidewalk this morning when I noticed a hummingbird sitting casually on one of the aloe vera spikes. He didn’t seem concerned about anything much, and why should he? There are blooms to be sucked. Plenty of them.

Hummingbirds are brave, not much put off by people nearby, and this guy was like that, but he didn’t stick around while I retrieved my camera.

elyssum
Sweet alyssum barely holds on over the winter, but rain revives it quickly.

Cool, wet, sometimes sunny days are the norm till October or so.

I never walked up a Romance Sidewalk or any sidewalk in Houston all those years I lived there and spotted a hummingbird sitting on a huge aloe vera.

I never wore a flannel shirt in late June or long pants except to go to work. It was very different then, and it’s better now, especially not having to work at all.

But I’d prefer being younger, just a little bit.

bell
Ivy sneaks through the bell hole from the other side where it mostly covers every inch.

My first hummer

In memory of Jack Brock.

FOR A FEW years, since I purchased my Canon, whenever I sat on the Jesus Patio to read my Kindle, I always toted the camera and rested it on the glass-top table.

One might wonder, Why does he do that? The answer is this: I wanted a photo of a hummer. Though the little buggers are commonplace in the Hacienda yard, photographing one has proved impossible. Till yesterday, that is.

The midday was overcast. Perhaps that explains my little friend’s relative lack of shimmering color, something often seen in hummer photos. Or maybe he’s a she and, like many birds, perhaps the hummer ladies are a bit drabber.

He (or she) is puffed up a bit too, a nippy afternoon.

No matter. Like Hemingway kneeling beside an African rhino, high-powered rifle aimed skyward, I have shot my prey. There will be no more safaris. I will read my books in peace.

Life goes on.