We humans think we’re so special. We’ve sent men to the moon, created the Internet and genetically cloned animals and food. And yet…
It’s been my pleasure and privilege the last couple of months to have a front row center seat at the ongoing production, “Miracles of Mother Nature.” Several months ago we bought some milkweed plants, hoping to attract butterflies. They did. Soon our plants we’re covered with caterpillars which turned into chrysalises. They were everywhere. Every day we would go out to the garden several times to look at all of them, from “Big Boy” to “Little Guy.” They grew and soon chrysalises were on the leaves, on wooden stakes, etc. We missed the emergence of most of them as they probably made their way to Mexico on the last leg of their flight, but one will always haunt me. I wanted to see the emergence of one of the butterflies. I watched one chrysalis almost hourly. I remember taking a flashlight out one Friday night after it had begun to emerge from the chrysalis. The next morning as soon as it was light, I was watching. There had been little movement from the day before. Showered and fed, two hours later I went out and the butterfly was gone. All that was left was the brown top of the enclosure. What a miracle! And darn it, I missed it! Hope he or she is having a margarita for me!
And then came the hummingbirds. It was as if someone was saying, “Well you missed the butterflies emerging, but we’ll throw you a bone. You’re going to be able to see the saga of the hummingbird cycle!” It began with me noticing more activity than usual by hummingbirds outside my office window on the second story of our house. I realized something was going on and discovered that hummingbirds had built a nest, perfectly, outside my window. Soon two eggs were in the nest and momma and it might have been poppa as well – there was more green on one of the birds and I thought that was probably the male – diligently sat on the nest. Then one morning I couldn’t see the white shells of the eggs and in their place was what looked like teensy dark fur. Over the next few days the fur began to grow and soon it was evident that two little hummingbirds were in the nest. They were fed several times a day by the parents. Amazing to watch the adult stick its beak down the baby’s beak to feed it. And they kept growing until it looked like they were twice the size of the nest. The adults could only feed them by hovering above them.
We knew the time was coming near when they would leave. A concrete patio was below the nest so for days I put sheets, blankets and towels down to provide softness in case they were pushed out or fell out of the nest. Last Saturday was flight day. They stood on the side of the nest, flapping their little wings time and time again with the parents zipping in and out of the tree. Finally, one of them got his (and I say him because he was a smidge bigger and had more green on his feathers) courage up and made it to the branch above. He looked back at his nestmate and it was as if he was urging her to do it. “Come on, you can do it!” And then she did it. (I still get goose bumps having been so close to this miracle!) The rest of the day they went from branch to branch and then they left.
On one hand, I really miss them. They had become like children to me. On the other hand, I had the privilege to witness the Miracle of Mother Nature. Thanks Mom!