Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What If?

This is a time of day that I wonder about things. Sometimes important life questions and, sometimes like this morning, less pressing questions about how the world works. What if, I wondered as I went out into this morning's pre-dawn warmth, fall didn't cool down and winter didn't come. Would all the singing crickets and katydids keep singing and keep mating? If there were no winter cold to kill them would we have even more of an abundance of young next year? What happens in the southern part of the United States, anyway? Perhaps today I'll try and do the necessary reading to find out.

Other questions... why are cardinals the first birds to emerge from the darkness each morning, chipping from the trees and feeders before any of the other birds arrive? What is it about each bird that informs when it is time for that particular species to awake and start the business of the day? In our yard the cardinals arrive first, lately, followed by the robins and white-crowned sparrows, then the Carolina wren and the yard-space is alive with their different call notes and stealthy movements. The goldfinches, Carolina chickadees and titmice seem to wait for the full light of day to begin their feeding and calling.

And for the last few months each morning has brought ruby-throated hummingbirds to the flowers or feeders at first light as well. Are they dropping in from a night time migration or just getting an early start to their feeding, having spent the night someplace close by? And speaking of ruby-throats, it took a good while to find one in the yard this morning. This, of course, is the time of year that each morning I awake wondering if yesterday was the last hummingbird of the year. But, happily, not today. Today there is at least one feeding and resting and deciding whether to stay and feed longer or head on south. An innkeeper could not be happier at seeing guests arrive than I am to host these little ones for so much of the year.

Once again I realize how important and how easy it is to provide habitat for birds and pollinators who are losing ground in our modern world. If only all could know how beautiful a yard can be and provide sustenance at the same time. How much closer to Eden our neighborhoods would be if others made the same garden choices. To live in the midst of non-human life who ask only a place to feed, find shelter and raise young is as satisfying an experience as any I have ever known. How I would have loved living in Eden.

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