“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


A Summer of Hummingbirds

What we're reading out loud right now. I kept looking at it in the bookstore because it has such a wonderful title, and drawings of hummingbirds all over the cover, and finally couldn't resist. So far I'm really crazy about it. Y'all may already know all about hummingbirds, but I don't. Although I do know they like "pink water", as Dorothy Albertson once stood up & told a meeting of bird-watchers here. Yes, I know y'all have no clue who Ms. Albertson was (perhaps I'll do a little story about her sometime), but Robert knew her - in fact, one of my most prized possessions came from the estate sale of her belongings. A black rock with white stripes - on one side she wrote Mexico, and on the other side she wrote the date. I think 1917 or 1918. Anyway, that's about all I knew about hummingbirds. My old cat Stella (named Stella so that I could go outside & call "Stellaaaa . . . Stellaaaaa . . .") once caught one, and I managed to get it away from her before she killed it, but it was unconscious & I didn't know what to do with it, so I put it in the car to take to my mother (who can work magic on ill or injured birds & beasts) & it came to in the car & began flying all around me as I drove & well, that was pretty cool!

So here's a bit from the book, quoting a Colonel Higginson: "In Cuba there is a blossoming shrub whose multitudinous crimson flowers are so seductive to the humming-birds that they hover all day around it, buried in the blossoms until petal and wing seem one. At first upright, the gorgeous bells droop downward, and fall unwithered to the ground, and are thence called by the Creoles "Cupid's Tears." Fredrika Bremer relates that daily she brought home handfuls of these blossoms to her chamber, and nightly they all disappeared. One morning she looked toward the wall of the apartment, and there, in a long crimson line, the delicate flowers went ascending one by one to the ceiling, and passed from sight. She found that each was borne laboriously onward by a little colorless ant much smaller than itself: the bearer was invisible, but the lovely burdens festooned the wall with beauty." How gorgeous is that? Doesn't it just make you want to start painting hummingbirds & red flowers? Higginson called it "The Procession of the Flowers".

I am spending my not-painting time soaking up luscious words. Wonderful images are just everywhere. I am quite partial to books that read like a painting - plot plays a distant second for me. Summertime is coming, which means reading about India (a summer ritual), and perhaps some Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and the books about Tuscany by Frances Mayes. In The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron says we must have dates for our inner artist - our artist self. I'm using this alone, silent reading time as just that. I'm already feeling better, more inspired, kinder to myself.

What do y'all do?


  1. Reading is such a soothing, wonderful method of self care...I salute you.

    I cannot believe your cat actually caught a hummingbird!! I didn't think anything could catch such a quick and spirited little bird.

    Picturing him flying about in your car made me smile...must be a sign of good luck, you think?

  2. Jaime- It WAS a smile moment. It was years ago, and I still think about it. Re: Stella catching the hummingird. She was the fastest cat I've ever seen when it comes to birding, & to be honest, it made me crazy! Poor birds!

  3. Having Bossy at ANYTHING feels like quite an accomplishment!


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