It was one of those three-day weekend kind of Mondays. A Monday dressed up as a Sunday. I read quietly in the backyard, 2pm sun just so, moving its angle a few minutes away from a solstice and a few minutes closer to a solstice. A book about productive disagreements was open on my lap, my legs stretched out in my house slippers, a tangle of backyard cob webs streaming from the worn toes, and my mind kept doing its thing – the bob and weave. Reading sentence and paragraph only to read both again to try and make meaning of it this time.
My mind was not here. My mind was with my dad in his hospital bed. And wondering where my brother was, absent, magically disappeared.
What was he thinking?
But I really needed the answers this book was supposed to give me.
I kept hearing a low buzzing noise. It’s city living, so sometimes it’s a low flying plane, circling to sight-see the city’s seven hills. Other times it’s the big yellow jackets that lazily float their heavy bodies from bloom to bloom on the Thai basil. Sometimes it’s a motorcycle in the distance that doesn’t have to mask its ripping sound for anyone or anything. I’d heard the noise strongly and then it would get faint, back and forth like this. Finally I saw the source.
A ruby-throated humming bird, no bigger than my palm. It’s long beak a guide, orienting it in the direction it wanted to go, it’s tiny head turning on its tiny neck, feet tucked deeply into its body where the emerald green fades to moss.
And I realize this whole time it was circling above me, just two feet away. I could outstretch my arm to it if it would let me.
My heartrate picked up.
What was he thinking?
Was I wearing a brightly colored shirt? Did I smell like jasmine? Was I sitting so still he thought I was lawn furniture upon which to perch and chirp? Was he going to dive bomb me? Am I that citified that I’m now afraid of a 1-ounce creature? Strong, faint, strong, faint, close, away, back, forth.
I took some deep breaths, trying to really notice this creature. They say that at the end of my life, I will be what I have noticed.
I scoot to the edge of my chair, feet now firmly planted on the ground, and he zig zags closer. I think we are in a dance, sharing communication without understanding how.
What I noticed is that he is not letting go. That is what I’m thinking actually.
My dad is not letting go.
And my brother has let go.
At what point does that mean we are in a productive disagreement?
The sun is now fully in my eyes and I shift to the left.
And there I see it – the light streaming through the giant pine tree just so. A swarm of the tiniest gnats I’ve ever seen, a kinetic mass of wings and bodies forming a safety circle, a survival strategy. And, obviously, the hummingbird was taking his pleasure at this feast, zipping back and forth and back and forth through their cocoon.
And I wonder, what else am I missing?