Resisting The Urge


The time has come to switch over from the long lasting and excellent garden denizen violas to more summery and heat tolerant annuals. There are daily trips made to the plant sellers as just the right color, form, height and texture for containers and path edges are sought out. Often it is impulse buys that come home instead of a planned palette. So it happened that three red Salvia greggiis were sitting in the large plastic tub, soaking up some water in the shade under the golden elderberry tree, Sambucus canadensis ‘Aurea’ near where a chair is placed for quiet human garden contemplation. I was thinking about where would be the best place for the Salvias to be planted. There are other trios of these wonderful woody perennials nearby in the two cement block planters on either side of the garage steps already.


I might have dozed off a bit as it was very hot and humid and strenuous gardening activity had been done earlier in the day. Suddenly a buzzing, whirring sound was heard that snapped me to full attention. A male ruby throated hummingbird was visiting the red blooms of the Salvias in the round planter closest to me. He was lingering and my first thought was, I am ashamed to admit this, I need to run and get my camera.


But I knew if I moved a muscle it would scare this beloved visitor away and there would be no chance for a photo. So I sat very still, barely taking a breath, and fighting the urge to think about the camera at all. It was quite a struggle, trying to enjoy this miracle before me without wanting to capture it in pixels. Satiated but still searching for more, the hummer then came over to the three quarts of Salvia sitting in the plastic tub, snacking on the nectar of the few scarlet blooms. It was so close to me I could have reached out and pet the brilliant feathers. His red throat was easily visible from such a short distance, the shiny dark green on his back, the black chin and the white belly below the red neckerchief was as clear and sharp as I have ever seen. Snap, went the shutter in my mind’s eye, to save and savor the memory. If I had been holding the camera, the movement to focus and snap the shutter would have shattered the moment. I am so glad I was able to resist that urge.

Frances

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15 Responses to Resisting The Urge

  1. You did a fine job of giving us a “photo” of the hummer with your words!

    Thanks Kathy. I thought about using an old photo of a hummer, but figured that sort of defeated the idea I was trying to convey in the post.
    Frances

  2. I rarely have my camera when precious hummers or butterflies are visiting…the moments live in my mind’s eye…such a wonderful visit!

    That just seems to be the way of it, doesn’t it, Donna? Before blogging began, I used to simply enjoy those moments. It is hard to go back to that, but I am trying!
    Frances

  3. You were wise to resist the urge. Sometimes one doesn’t see what catches one’s eye because of worrying about focusing and looking through that tiny window. I bet your visitor will return when you do have your camera ready. This blistering heat has been a trial. I hope your garden has had plenty of rain.

    Thanks Lisa. We did get an inch of rain last night, I was getting a little worried. You are right about missing the moment in trying to get the shot, and I am a point and shoot quickly kind of gal, only looking at the screen from afar when I click and hope for the best. Stay cool, my friend!
    Frances

  4. What delightfully vivid imagery your words conjured up. Yes, I agree with Lisa that your colorful visitor will probably return since he’s had such a successful dining interlude at Fairegarden. Your story reminded me of the time a hummer got caught in our garage and, even though I opened the door and tried to guide him out to freedom, he just kept returning to a window and, eventually,beat his wings to exhaustion. He finally sank to the sill and I picked him up to take him outside for a safe release. I admit I held him for a few extra beats to marvel at his exquisite daintiness and perfection. When he perked back up and was ready to go, I gave him a gentle toss and he made the most entertaining little squeak noises as he flew off.

    Thanks, Michaele for those kind words. There are hummingbirds here all summer, I can hear them chirping as they dart about. I used to hang feeders for them, but keeping the nectar fresh proved too much bother although seeing them out the window was always a joy. When they buzz past me while I am kneeling down hidden amongst the plants is a validation of the friendliness of the garden to critters large and small. I loved your story about your saving the little hummer, and would definitely have held on a little longer, too.
    Frances

  5. Rose says:

    I have never been able to get a photo of a hummer on my plants either, but a moment like that is too precious to disturb with a camera. It’s an image I’m sure you won’t forget, etched in your mind, if not on a photo.

    I won’t forget it, Rose, that is the truth. Photos do help me remember stuff, like what is planted where, but this image is etched in the cerebrum.
    Frances

  6. Layanee says:

    Is that a glass mushroom I spy? I digress from the hummingbird issue and can so identify with your frustration. I was wearing a magenta visor the other day and I heard a hummer buzz by, hover for a moment and leave with what I can only imagine was disgust at the lack of nectar. No camera, no movement on my part, just the knowledge that he was there.

    Hi Layanee, yes that is the mushroom/leaf grouping that I wrote about here, Leaves of Substance. How wonderful you to experience the closeness of the magical hummers. I do love that whirring sound along with the chirp of disgust!
    Frances

  7. I have an excuse which I’ve used often, not just on occasions like these but also as an excuse for not yet (never?) writing the Great South African Novel: life is for living, not for recording! 😉 Jack

    Not only is life for living, but life is too short, Jack. But I treasure the photographs I have taken over the years of family, friends and the garden. The hummingbird moment would have been lost forever if I had moved a muscle. Sometimes the choice is easy. You should write that book!!!!!
    Frances

  8. Alison says:

    I had this same problem all last summer. I got some very bad photos of hummers. I love the picture you painted of your experience, just using words. It conjured up exactly how I felt! It’s so hard sometimes, not just with hummers, but with everything to do with gardening, to just experience it, and not to be always thinking, how can I turn this into a blog post?

    It is a constant battle for me, Alison, trying to just enjoy life in the garden and all the wonders it holds. When I am all dirty and working and sweaty it is easy to just watch the hummers or butterflies. It is after I clean up and just out to be in the garden that the urge strikes to run for the camera. Sometimes I do run to get it, if there is a slow moving creature, like a turtle! HA Thanks for the kind words of encouragement.
    Frances

  9. It’s so difficult to resist though. We were watching an Allen’s hummingbird this weekend, taking a splash bath in the water flowing over our fountain rock. I was absolutely adorable to watch, and rewarding too, as this water feature is new to our garden. We were so glad the birds were enjoying it, but like you, I really wanted to grab that camera…except I didn’t want to miss watching this tiny hummer taking a bath! Sometimes it is just better to sit and enjoy the moment. 🙂

    What a delightful image you describe, the bathing hummer! We need to just enjoy it for the miracle it is.
    Frances

  10. Sharon says:

    I realized many years ago that I need to put observing and enjoying above photography, even though I love doing photography. But I only recently started a blog and now I feel guilty sometimes about not having enough photos of the special garden moments. I like how you handled it to create this post. I hope I can learn from you.

    I Sharon, thanks for adding in here. It is a struggle sometimes, but a worthy one, to simply enjoy each and every moment of life without thinking about recording it in some way. Congratulations on your blog and please don’t worry about not having enough special photos. Take lots of shots, hundreds and you will find the ones that can express the sentiment about which you are writing.
    Frances

  11. cathywieder says:

    Well done! I have never been able to photo a hummer! I so know the challenges.

    Thanks Cathy. I have taken several shots of hummers, but none that I am satisfied with anyway, so describing the event in words is something more obtainable for me. I really just like seeing them enjoying the garden.
    Frances

  12. commonweeder says:

    You have given us all a lesson here. Blogging has made me think of what my camera could capture all day long. Really, we just have to let it all go and enjoy the uncapturable moments as they come.

    Hi Pat, thanks. It is hard to let it go, but really better for our emotional outlook to do so, in my opinion, anyway. Life is for living first, blogging second!
    Frances

  13. Don’t you wish you could just blink and take a picture? Sometimes even the smallest move frightens the subject of your soon to be prized photo. I have a Salvia greggi that is red. Am rooting a few pieces of it because SOME dog, while chasing his ball, plowed into it. I do love having plants that the hummingbirds are drawn to.

    What a great idea, Janet, the blinking. I dream of Jeannie was a favorite of mine, too. HA Good luck with your Salvia, it does grow well from cuttings, I have heard.
    Frances

  14. Frances,
    I was sitting on the grown this morning weeding my wildflower beds and heard a loud buzz myself,, I looked up just in time to see a swarm of honeybees leave the hollow tree in the woods behind my home and depart for a new nest site,,the swarm was like a cloud as big as a midsized car. I knew there was a nest in the old hollow tree, very large one,, but I had only heard of swarms ,,I went to the puter and looked it up and learned alll about the queen bee and how they leave to find new nests,, usually 60% of the bees go,,others stay,,,very nice experience,,,also one of those moments you wish you had the pixel gun handy,,,I really enjoy your pictures and blog,,It is an end of the day thing for me now,,,my wind down browse of mother nature,,,,thankx
    Freedom

    Hi Charles, thanks for adding in here. What a wonderful story, I can imagine that swarm of bees, not being afraid of them at all, and the awe inspiring force of nature at work. It would have made a wonderful photo, but your telling of it is just as wonderful.
    Frances

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