humingbird in the house
Friday, May 21 2004
There was no Spanish class today. What happened instead was that Gretchen's parents came to visit, the first time they've been here since the wedding.
Early this afternoon I happened to notice a tiny male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird flying around in the first floor office. This was such an improbable occurrence that I had to assume that Clarence the cat must have caught him and brought him in. You'd think it would be an simple matter to simply shoo a hummingbird out through a door or window, but after today's experience I can tell you it's very difficult. The little guy had a neurotic obsession with staying as high as possible, hoping, it seemed, to break through a hole he knew must be in the ceiling somewhere (that's how it works in the forest after all). This kept him from swooping down even the slight amount necessary to pass out through a door. Using a broom, we tried to coax him out to the front door, but once he ended up beneath the cathedral ceiling (18 feet above the floor) it was a hopeless cause. He flew back and forth under the ridge as senselessly as a moth at a streetlamp. When he inevitably became tired, he settled on the side of the woodstove chimney pipe. Later he flew down much lower and hid behind the painting I'd made of Sally the dog. This gave us hope that he'd soon fly out through an open door, so we left him alone and went for a walk in the forest.
Later the hummingbird was nowhere to be seen and we assumed he'd finally made his escape. But then I saw Clarence batting at what appeared to be a moth helplessly trapped in a clump of cobwebs behind the tile firewall that protects the wall from the heat of the woodstove. When I got down and looked at the object of Clarence's attention, I could see a chain of a half dozen rubies glinting in the shadows. The hummingbird had somehow wedged himself into this tiny space and gotten ensnared in the dustbunnies. I removed a piece of moulding and rescued the tiny bird, carefully plucking off all the spiderwebs around his feet and bill. I feared maybe he was injured and would never fly again, but I went outside to put him on a tree branch in hopes he would recover some energy. The moment I opened my hands he went buzzing off into the air, perhaps a little slow, but definitely on the mend.
In the evening we invited over some more people and had a barbecue, the first time we'd ever made use of the bluestone grill in our backyard. Neither Gretchen nor I have ever presided over a barbecue, so we didn't really know if we were doing it right. But it's all pretty simple as long as you get the charcoal briquettes burning.
It's a certainty that this was the first time the grill had ever been used to prepare an exclusively-vegetarian meal, one consisting of various vegetables as well as sandwich patties made of fake chicken meat. Dinner conversation ranged from the wildly political (where everyone could agree) to a discussion of retail quasi-monopolies. Mr. Eagles Nest went out on a limb and stated that the storied local merchant whom Walmart replaces isn't necessarily a "good guy." Gretchen needed some convincing, but I thought he had a sound argument. Nothing is simple in this world, and everyone could benefit from the addition of further nuances to their opinions about things. Walmart has destroyed landscapes with ten acre parking lots, polluted labor markets with unlivable non-union jobs, and endangered the distribution of controversial content. But they've also made gallon jars of pickles affordable for the poor. That said, I don't think anyone will ever discover a single civic benefit that has come out of another aspect of capitalism run amok, radio station consolidation.
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