Wondrous Sight

This past weekend I witnessed something wonderful. Early in the morning on Saturday, while walking around the garden before the big storms arrived that had been forecast, and before we left the house to go to Knoxville to visit the offspring, I was able to view the most amazing thing. Of course my camera was not with me, it was too dark really to take a good photo, so why bring it out? It was just going to be a quick look at the garden’s status before the rain started. There cannot be enough looking at that status and I needed to fill up my eyes since we would be away for the day. The usual route had been followed, looking for progress in the blooms just opening and inhaling the scent of azaleas, dianthus and roses. The far corner where the arbor is providing support for newly planted roses and clematis was the first destination as the path was followed from the back door to the east. The shrub border was checked to admire the deciduous azaeleas still afire with color. The veggie area was checked for emerging sugar snap peas from the white blooms. The foxgloves at the back corner of the shed were checked for any apricot color visible from the swollen buds. The knot garden was checked for the progress of the dying tulip foliage to be at the stage where the celosia seedlings could be planted inside the quadrants. The step edges were checked for the appearance of any new diathus color combinations. As I was coming back towards the house, via the pond to check on the fish, Fido and Casey, a ruby throated hummingbird flew to the waterfall and stopped midair, looking at the water. I stood still as a statue, barely breathing for fear of frightening him away. He comtemplated the water for a short time, I thought he was maybe going to get a drink. And he did, touching his pointed beak on the rock where the water drips down. There was thunder in the distance, long and rolling. I remained with my feet glued to the spot on the stepping stone, waiting for what would happen next, heart racing. The tiny bird flew into the dripping water, landing on the sloping stone, and began bathing himself! He crossed his wings on his backside and shimmied and shook while clinging to the rock. He did not have his wings outspread like most birds do when they splash around in our various birdbaths. His head turned left and right speedily, hummingbirds even bathe quickly, just like they flutter their wings. He stayed under the tiny shower for several seconds. My mind was going wild, knowing there would be no running inside to retrieve the camera, I tried to memorize each moment, never wanting to forget what was being witnessed, for it is unlikely that I will ever happen upon such a wonder again. After becoming as clean as he wished, he flew to the nearby dogwood tree and landed on a branch. He was finishing his abulitions, preening his feathers and smoothing his wings. He spent a good amount of time getting every feather in place to his liking, then flew to a higher branch and began the routine over again. I was nearly in tears with happiness that he remained within sight as long as he did. Then it was up, up and away, hovering for a moment near the top of the vine laden walnut tree, then off to the west. I came inside to write this down before it could be forgotten or the memory altered by time.

The step stone to the right of the lowest stone in the above photo was where I was standing, looking inward toward the waterfall, scanning for orange fish Fido and white fish Casey when the visitor arrived.

The hummer refreshed himself with a bit of a sip from the sloping rock beneath the flat piece of flagstone where the water drips. He touched his beak to the wet surface at the edge while still midair. After a couple of drinks he landed under the second stream from the right for a shower, clinging to the stone with his claws.

The view while standing on the same stone where this scene had just been seen, with the camera this time, feet facing the pond and looking behind my left shoulder to the steps that lead to the top of the hill.

The view looking up the hill from the pond from the same position. As much delight as these views provide, the voyeur view of the hummingbird taking a shower was by far more wonderful than anything else the garden has ever offered.

A close up of the sacred spot on the sloping stone immediately after the witnessing of the event. It appears that a little memento was left by our feathered wonder, be it a feather, the preferred belief, or something else. Even though this iridescence has now been washed away, the the memory of it is etched in my mind’s eye forever.


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31 Responses to Wondrous Sight

  1. karen says:

    What a lovely story!

    We have a bird bath with a dripper right by our breakfast room. We get more pleasure out of watching the action while we eat supper… For some reason, the bigger birds indulge in long messy baths in the late afternoon, so the bath is always nearly empty by 7 pm.

    I spend a certain amount of time wondering why things like brown thrashers and blue jays don’t use the pond instead. I imagine it’s because they know there are snakes in the pond and think there might be alligators.

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What wonderous luck Frances. I can feel your excitement and awe. This is one of those pleasurable reasons why we garden.

  3. Melanie says:

    Oh Frances, what a magical moment! I’m so glad you had this experience. Maybe it was meant to be that you didn’t have your camera, this way you remember the true beauty in your mind’s eye and not the photograph.

  4. Nancy J. Bond says:

    What a beautiful experience you had with the little hummer, and so poignantly told. 🙂

  5. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

    Frances, that is so cool. Makes me want to go outside and watch for bathing beauties myself. I love the image of him swimming with his wings behind him. Lucky you.~~Dee

  6. Dave says:

    Hummers are sure fun to watch! It always works out that way. A great photo could be taken if it weren’t for the camera being A.W.O.L.

    Your garden is looking great Frances!

  7. Jane Marie says:

    How wonderful for you to have that experience with the hummingbird. It’s almost better that you did not have the camera because you were really intent on watching every movement with your own eyes. Sometimes looking through the lens interferes with our enjoyment of the happening.

  8. Frances, says:

    Hi Karen, that would be a delightful sight during supper. Yikes, it sounds like your bigger birds are smart enough to know about the dangers in your pond, I wouldn’t want to bathe in there either!

    Lisa, I was so excited that I nearly had an asthma attack! My heart was truly racing. Looking back, it doesn’t seem like as big a deal, but it was at that moment. Now every time I pass the pond, I look around for the hummer.

    Nancy J., thanks. I didn’t know if I could get across the feelings that were experienced at the that sight. The telling pales to the real thing.

  9. Frances, says:

    Dee, thanks so much. His little folded wings were a divine sight.

    Dave, thanks. My camera and my skills are not such that I could take a decent picture of a hummingbird, I have tried many times. Maybe if he would stand perfectly still and let me get really close, like the flowers do. ;->

    Jane Marie, You are so right about the camera interfering. My first thought was if only I had the camera, but the close attention would not have been paid to each detail of the scene if I was trying to take a photo. When I walk the garden without the camera, I look at the plants differently, more closely and slowly, instead of looking for a good shot. Thanks for reminding me to do that more often.

  10. Gail says:

    Frances, This is a beautifully told perfect one with the experience moment! What a delight.


  11. Pam/Digging says:

    What a delightful experience. You were wise not to rush for the camera and spoil the moment. Savor that memory.

  12. chuck b. says:

    What delight! I should like to set up a dripping bird bath station for my resident hummingbirds. They visit daily nectar and bugs, but don’t seem to get much out of the birdbath.

    Thank you for sharing all the technical details at the end–I was wondering about all those things as I was reading the first part of the story.

  13. Frances, says:

    Gail, thanks, you are the sweetest person, your comments always brighten my day.

    Pam, You are so right. Running for the camera was out of the question. I will always cherish the memory, and if I forget, can read the blog entry, another plus for the blog!

    Chuck b., That is great that you have resident hummingbirds. Like some people, this one anyway, seemed to prefer a shower to a bath. There do seem to do dripping birdbaths, that seems like a good addition to your oasis. Glad your questions were answered. The first part of the post was written right after it happened. Then I came back and posted the photos and added more explanation. Usually my posts are pictures first, then narrative. Thanks for visiting.

  14. Jean says:

    Oh Frances I think it was a big deal, great experience and your writting about it almost made me feel like I was right there. Had you have had your camera I would hope you still would have frozen up as 1 click of the camera and that magnificence sight would have been gone. Awesome post!!

  15. Frances, says:

    jean, what a heart warming comment. Thanks so much for writing. You are so right that one click, or even any movement, would have frightened him away. Better that the temptation of the camera was not there. Thanks for visiting.

  16. Rose says:

    What an amazing experience, Frances! You’ve captured the whole event so wonderfully that we can all picture it in our minds. Your garden is absolutely beautiful, by the way.

  17. rusty in miami says:

    Moments like that is why we are gardeners, great post thanks for sharing it with us

  18. Frances, says:

    Rose, oh thank you for those kind words. I didn’t know how people would react to this, since there were no pretty pictures to illustrate the story. Thanks about the garden, this is its best time, mid spring.

    Rusty, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. It is much appreciated.

  19. Linda Lunda says:

    Ohh so wonderfull!!! And your garden is stunning! I love to read your blog an look at all the photos.

  20. Frances, says:

    Linda, what a nice thing to say. Thanks for giving us a look.

  21. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    I think you were meant to not have a camera & instead just be in the moment. It sounds like one of those magical moments of grace that touch your soul with beauty & joy. How fortunate you are.

  22. Frances, says:

    Hi MMD, I think you are right. And I am certainly lucky to have seen such a moment. Thanks for stopping by.

  23. ourfriendben says:

    Wow, Frances, how delightful! I knew hummers loved to zip through sprays and drips of water to bathe, but had no idea that was how they did it. Thanks to you, now I know! And as always, your garden looks fantastic!

  24. Frances, says:

    Hi OFB, you know, that’s right. I have seen them fly through the sprinkler before. Thanks for visiting and glad you learned something new. That is always good.

  25. Lisa in CA says:

    What an awesome gift nature bestowed upon you that day. Your awed description and pictures helped us all imagine the breathtaking scene. Thank you for sharing.

  26. Frances, says:

    Lisa in CA, It was truly a gift, and I did so want to share it.

  27. Frances, says:

    Hi Melanie, Your comment appeared this morning, the next day, somehow it must have been floating in the blogdom for a day, HA. You are right about the memory, it will not be forgotten and the camera would have scared the bird away had it been used.

  28. Robin's Nesting Place says:

    Frances, I hope we never loose the joy and appreciation for the little blessings in life. I get such a thrill when I witness things like this too.

  29. Frances, says:

    Robin, I couldn’t agree more. Those little miracles are what make us feel alive. I was going to title this post A Miracle, but decided that wasn’t quite right. But to me, it was a miracle.

  30. Ewa says:

    Frances, what a beautiful and magcal moment told in a way that hooked me in 🙂
    This is the moment, which is a part of secret garden.

  31. Frances, says:

    Ewa, that is so sweet, thanks so much. I keep stopping by the pond, looking for the hummer to return for another wash, but no such luck. It was probably a once in a lifetime event.

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