I remember as a child, sitting on my great-grandmother's porch in spring and watching hummingbirds have their way with her petunias, geraniums and other flowers.
When we built our house, one of the first things we did was put up hummingbird feeders. They hang just outside the windows of our great room, and we anxiously await their arrival from South America each year.
They fly thousands of miles, and then one morning they hover just outside the window looking in chidingly as if to say: ‘Hey our throats are like a desert out here. Can you get on the stick and put nectar in the feeders?’
I built blue bird houses many years ago and put them up in the back yard. Each year we spend a lot of sunny afternoons on the back deck watching them build nests and feed their young once they hatch out.
Today I went out to the screened porch to write. Often when I can't come up with a decent idea, I'll head to the porch. There's something about wind in the chimes, and the earthy smell of spring that inspires me. Even when it seems my creative well has run dry, the porch always provides a spark.
As I sat patiently awaiting the arrival of the muse, I realized it was a little warm so I stepped inside and flipped on the porch ceiling fan. When I looked up, the light globe was so dirty, you could barely see the bulb.
I flipped the fan and light off, and loosened the thumb screws holding the globe in place. When I pulled it down, I found a tiny sparrow's nest. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was from last year.
That's fortunate because had it been a fresh nest, I couldn't have used the light until after the babies hatched and left the nest.
It occurred to me that placing that nest in that light globe was a stroke of genius. The location was in the dry and out of the reach of the wind. It was about 10 feet from a fountain that runs day and night. And not 30 feet from the bird feeders we replenish daily.
A few years ago, sparrows built a nest in the dome of our propane tank. One morning when I went out to check the gas level, I got a surprise when I opened the dome.
A tiny mama sparrow flew out straight for my face. I jumped back reflexively, got my feet tangled up, and fell right there in the driveway.
I looked around, as I always do when I make a fool of myself, to see if anyone had seen me get my tail kicked by a critter that weighed just slightly more than a well-fed butterfly.
The only thing looking, was that mama sparrow who'd flown a few feet away, and was perched on a lower limb of our rose-a-sharon. I'm not sure if birds can laugh, but it sounded like it to me.
We had enough fuel to last another month or two, so I waited about calling the gas man until the babies had hatched.
When Jilda got home today and asked if I had thought of an idea for my column this week. I told her I did, thanks to the birds.