Nothing ho-hum about hummingbirds

The tiny birds fluttering outside my window remind me to get excited about life.

Casey Christie/The Bakersfield Californian/AP
Tiny flier: A hummingbird hovers over a flower in Bakersfield, Calif. More than 25 species of hummingbirds have been seen in the US and Canada.

Now and then all of us get discouraged and need a boost of optimism and good cheer. Eventually, of course, something inspires us and gives us the will to straighten our spines and keep smiling. Well, my secret antidote (don't laugh) is just outside my window: hummingbirds.

I know what you're thinking: that my melancholy moods must be superficial if a hummingbird can cure them. But truly, the hummingbirds that come to my yard do lift my spirits.

When I feel discouraged, tired, bored, or wimpy, those tiny creatures – with their iridescent feathers, ruby throats, and miniature chirps – remind me to get excited about life. There's nothing ho-hum about the way they dive and dip and hover and flutter from dawn to dusk. They don't sit on a branch and act bored.

Their enthusiasm is contagious; when I watch them, I catch it. They make me realize that wondrous things are possible if I just spring into action.

Furthermore, simply by being there, they prove that the world is orderly and show me that it's foolish to waste my time stewing about the daily dose of bad news. They appear at my feeder every year on May 1 (almost to the day). If they are able to maintain a schedule like that, to fly to Iowa from the faraway south, how can I believe the world is a hopeless mess?

My hummingbirds include me in their lives and trust me to provide food for them. They live in the trees behind my home and, year after year, they come to my feeder. I know they could probably find another feeder somewhere, but the point is, they don't; they come to mine.

There's nothing special about my feeder: It's the flat, round, red kind, and it hangs on a rod that hooks to a stake in the ground.

Twice a week, I fill it with fresh sugar-water. My recipe: 1 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar stirred and heated in the microwave until the sugar is dissolved. It couldn't be easier, but they love it and I can't let them down.

I know that hummingbirds act on instinct and their behavior is innate. Still, I admire their lighthearted lifestyle: no need to fret about tomorrow's problems or worry ahead of time about the long, hazardous trip they'll be making in October when they again head south.

My hummingbirds set a good example for me. I see them as content to simply live each day fully, grateful to be a part of this great adventure.

So here's a love song to my hummingbirds. All summer long, they delight and cheer and amuse and inspire me.

I wish I could tell them how important they are to me.

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