The two hummingbirds got within two feet of me as I sat at the porch table looking northwest, about 45 minutes after sunrise.
For the last little while, these two have been buzzing about two feeders filled with sugar water that the owners took care of before they left on Sunday. And which I will want to fill if these marvelous little creatures indeed drink up to three times their body weight as claimed. I doubt the accuracy of measuring this — how does the ornithologist capture one from its life long enough to weigh it? — but given that they beat their wings at an average of fifty beats per second, I don’t doubt their need to eat almost constantly.
The lesson for me being: if I want those three slices of key lime pie today, I must do about ten thousand jumping backs before Noon.
Today is our second full day in Ruidoso. It’s glorious. It’s a tourist town with a year-round 8,000-person population, swelling of course during ski season. Surely there must also be a swell during late July and August, because the cool evenings and mornings (61 degrees today) sandwiching the high-altitude-hot days (mid-80s) offer the near-perfect getaway from the south central Texas summer heat, which peaks at 100 for days on end and cools overnight just enough to keep your coffee warm for the next morning.
As I write, I can feel my t-shirt heating up against my skin. My shirt is grey, certainly no magnet for sun rays, yet the sun’s penetration is almost distracting. I grab my left side with the palm of my right hand, and it feels like I’m standing too close to a bonfire. To be sure, though our galaxy’s star is 94 million miles away, it emits so much heat that — I once heard but cannot now verify — if it were the size of a pinhead and we were standing within 65 miles, we’d be evaporated in heat.
Glorious in its own right.
The sun now hits the thin string holding up the hummingbird feeder with the red base. I see what look to be tiny shimmering droplets moving up and down the length of the string. Glistening. Mysteriously moving past each other. Tiny droplets. Not stopping; all at a uniform speed, gravity seeming to have no effect whatever.
I stand and move to the edge of the porch to get a closer look at the feeder. Below their steady marching up and down on the string, a column of black ants appears to swim up and down inside the semi-opaque liquid, until you realize that they are actually on the outside of the clear plastic well.
For a minute, you gave them credit for having an ability you were unaware of.