There are signs of the seasonal changes around us that happen every year... squirrels acting squirrely as they gather nuts for the winter, those same nuts raining down on our roof from the black walnut tree next to the Study window, and the hummingbirds fluttering around aged flowers as they get ready for their long flight southward.
The hummingbirds were particularly busy last week as I was able to watch their almost unbelievable hovering in the air to find whatever nectar remains from the end of season blooms. There is no book or television program that can take my attention away from watching this process each year.
They are often hidden in my yard most of the hot weather season but there is something about this time of year when they sense the long journey ahead and the need to enjoy lots of little meals throughout the days before they take flight.
They are even showing up by the front porch to grab a nourishing snack from the late blooming pink geranium which grows in the container that holds mainly coleus and a type of ivy. I know they are drawn to the bright colors like red but apparently they appreciate a pretty pink flower, too.
I opened the front door one day last week, looking through the glass in the storm door for evidence that Mouse was on the front porch waiting for her lunch. While there was no outdoor kitty present, there were two hummingbirds enjoying a geranium snack. Normally the opening of the door would cause them to take flight but that day they stayed.
As I stood at the door, one of the hummingbirds flew so close to me that I was concerned he would fly into the glass. What a privilege it was to have even a matter of seconds to appreciate his beauty and the wonder of his wings that allow him to hover in place.
I wondered what brought him so close to the window when I caught my own reflection and remembered I was wearing a red top. He must have thought I was an odd looking flower blossom?
I thanked God many times for the joy those birds brought last week. Their appearance is fleeting enough that one has to be at the right place in the right time, especially on the front porch where they are seldom seen. I have come to realize that such times are not coincidences but glimpses of God's love at work in my life.
I titled this with both hummingbirds and humbug because I have found 2020 has had a way of bringing out the Scrooge in us. One must admit that we get to the place where we wonder what shoe is going to drop next. There has never been such a year in our lifetime when one event after another has occurred, the most obvious being the pandemic.
Sometimes it seems as if the darkness is winning, even though the Bible tells us differently. We have read the end pages and they are full of indescribable joy and a reborn earth. However, if we do not rein in our thoughts, it would be easy to let them go down paths which only bring worry at the least... despair at worst.
We understand that the battle for our peace is in our minds. Too much time pondering the possibilities would make anyone a Scrooge. When we realize a battle exists, we can do something about it that opens the way for us to be filled with joy.
While the hummingbirds were a serendipitous enjoyment, on most days I have found it necessary to look for the beauty that is around me in this unconventional year. For where I live each day is somewhere between the times of hummingbirds and humbug.
Through the months I have been choosing little things here and there to bring light into the darkness. Sometimes it has been simply buying one rose at the grocery store to place on my desk. Earlier in the Spring, I made certain there was space in the budget for deck and porch flowers. Some of them are still bringing a smile each day.
I have taken the time to watch favorite old movies and re-read a few beloved books. I find revisiting the music, movies, and books that I already know will make me happy is often the best way to battle a humbug spirit. Well, except for losing myself in the Psalms.
Long ago I came to appreciate the healing value of what I hang on the walls; which is why I like beautiful artwork purchased on sale or at thrift stores, needlework made by friends, Susan Branch calendars, family photos, and bulletin boards filled with images that make my heart sing.
This past week when we had a couple cooler days, I put together a lovely sausage lentil soup to simmer in a favorite deep red dutch oven. It has been awhile since the calming experience of slicing and chopping have come together to make soup. I've been looking forward to soup and sweater weather.
I haven't figured it all out, yet. I think it is going to be necessary each day to determine I will do what brings life and light into my days and to avoid (as much as in my control) those which bring fear and frustration. God provided the hummingbirds but I chose the flowers. Both brought joy in dark days.
Image: Photo by William Jobes at birdwatchingdaily.com