I’m waiting for the hummingbirds. They come around this time–not all 340 species–just the one, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, the only one found in Maryland.
The male arrives first from Southern Mexico or Central America.
He is here, somewhere, scouting out territories, areas brimming with food. I’ve set out the sugar water; I’ve cleared a quiet place in the shade of a backyard tree.
Caroline waits for the butterflies. So I will plant something bright and strong to color our deck and attract them. I like the look and sound of “Skyvine,” something that will stretch and cover. Or Mandevilla, another climber. I want pots upon pots of Salvia and patio trees that will be easy to keep alive. I want flowers blooming all summer long, shrubby vines, untamed. I want passionate, colorful order, the company of birds and butterflies.
Every spring the girls and I look for the signs: the daffodils, the tulips, the magnolias. Our red azalea is awakening now, always more eager than the white to open up. Forsythia–bright punches of yellow–my girls can say it now, “Forsythia!” They recognize the wonder; they are hopeful as we walk and as we drive, as we wander through our days, pointing to a smattering of signs.
I wonder, though. What about the hummingbird? The sugar water hangs still and the tray below is empty. Will he ever come? Or might he pick another spot, one more peaceful.
He has the sense, the instinct for beauty and sustenance.
In this place, children are murdered in their classroom. In this place, a child dies watching his dad run a marathon. In this place there are too many guns. In this place there are people who make bombs, pack bags with metal then line them up on busy streets.
In this place, seasons are marked with sadness–the coming of the December holidays, the arrival of spring.
No amount of colorful vine stretching skyward can hide us. It feels like that to me. No punch of yellow can smack us with the sense we need.