It’s raining in Oceanside, CA. Oh sweet rain, how mesmerizing art thou! Living in Oceanside is a sunshine paradise. I love it, no doubt. But I miss the rain and treasure the occasional storms that make their way through here. The rat-a -tat-tats on the windows soothe my soul and bring me to a place of serenity and reflection. I dream of a glass house in the middle of a thunderstorm – lounging on a plush rug, a velour throw draped over freshly bathed skin, in front of a flickering log fireplace, the crackling of fire surrounded by sky water drizzling down double pane glass, winds whispering soft howls, flashing splashes of lightning, rhythmic hums of thunder, and legs intertwined with a kindred spirit in the flesh. The feelings of safety and comfort in the midst of nature’s gifts summon a peace in my mind, body, and soul that is unlike any other sensory response. While this is but a dream, it is something I see in my mind and feel in my bones. And that is enough to take me to a happy place. I am grateful for the gifts of nature, the gift of imagination, and the gift of hope that maybe, just maybe, I can pull it off someday and make it a reality. May this reflection and dream remind us all to treasure nature’s gifts. Which leads me to share a story about a gift from nature that happened a few months ago and that I believe may very well be a once in a lifetime gift.
In my last entry I summoned one of nature’s creatures, the small yet fierce hummingbird. In early November of last year, I had an encounter with a hummingbird that left me in a whimsical state of wonder and awe. I was going to write about it, but I decided to keep that magical moment for myself. I shared it with a few close friends, but I knew someday when the time was right, inspiration would come calling and motivate me to share it more widely. On a typical sunshine laced Sunday morning, I was on my way out for my routine self-care ritual, beach volleyball. As I rolled my beach cruiser out the front door, I noticed a tiny bird on the ground in front of me. Immediately, I thought it was injured. I regularly see birds perch on my porch rail, but never on the ground unless they’re hurt. I approached it with care, reaching my hands out slowly to cup it up in my palms. To my surprise and delight, the bird took a few steps toward me. I then realized it was a hummingbird! Oh sweet hummingbird, how mesmerizing art thou! Like any human in this digital age, I whipped out my phone to capture this magical moment. Little did I know, I was in for more magic than just this treat of having this hummingbird take my front porch as a seat. Within moments, it flew and landed on my bike’s front wheel spoke. At first, I was giddy because it wasn’t injured. And then, I was giddy because it was perched on my bike spoke. I was standing there in total bewilderment. I was already running late for volleyball, but I certainly couldn’t shoo the little beauty away. So I just squatted in front of it, and of course, snapped a few more shots. The sweety little tweety then flew up and perched on my rail. And there it sat for what seemed like an eternity. I just stood there and stared in awe. Then something compelled me to come closer. I felt like it was drawing me in – to close the distance and say hello and perhaps, stroke its colorful feathers. As I drew near, it didn’t move. It looked right at me with the cutest little black eyes (sorry Pork Chop, in this moment the little birdie is gonna steal your thunder). With the finest and most delicate movements I could muster, I brought my forefinger to its chest. No movement. With the tip of my finger, I began to stroke its breast. Still no movement. It was giving me permission to caress it! And so I did. Many, many times. I then stroked its back. Many, many times. With phone in the other hand, I snapped several more photos. And then of course, I had to do it. I had to do what anyone else would do in 2017, take a selfie with my hummingbird friend! No movement. Hence, there it is – a selfie with this amazing creature. Countless other times I’ve seen hummingbirds hover nearby and then flutter away as I approach them. I couldn’t believe I had the wondrous gift of petting a hummingbird!!! I was going to be there as long as it stayed with me. But it must have felt that it’s mission was complete. It soon fluttered away and left me there with one of the most glorious feelings I’ve ever had in my life. Wow. Just wow.
“A hummingbird is considered to be a totem by many ancient tribes. This fascinating bird is capable of the most amazing feats despite its small size, such as traveling great distances. It is the smallest of all birds. It is the only creature able to stop dead in its tracks while traveling at full speed. It is unique in that it can fly backward and sideways, and can also hover, go forward, up, or down. Its wings flutter in a specific pattern that resembles the number 8, the symbol of infinity. The hummingbird spirit animal symbolizes the enjoyment of life and lightness of being. Those who have the hummingbird as a totem are invited to enjoy the sweetness of life, lift up negativity wherever it creeps in, and express love more fully in their daily endeavors. By affinity with the hummingbird, those who have this bird as totem may be encouraged to develop their adaptability and resiliency while keeping a playful and optimistic outlook.” – a compilation of various authors of websites dedicated to hummingbirds
When this magical moment happened, I was going through a pretty rough patch in life. Work was overwhelming, I was struggling with someone with whom I was in a quasi-relationship that was off and on regularly, and I missed my family because plans to see them twice earlier in the year were derailed. I tried to get to Houston to help my parents after the flood, but my flight was cancelled due to the remaining high waters. A month later I was supposed to go to Houston to celebrate my birthday, but my sister and her son got strep throat so she told me to stay away because it is very contagious. My birthday came, and I spent it alone, by choice. I was grateful for the many invitations, but I really just wanted to be alone. I was neck high in work and the day after I had a full day of hosting a conference on campus and an important committee meeting. By the end of October, I felt betrayed by my quasi-partner when I discovered something he had been hiding for a very long time. So when November rolled around, I was in the dumps. On November 5th is when my hummingbird spirit came in the flesh to remind me that I need to keep going, that I have it within me to push forward and travel great distances and achieve great feats, and through all the shitty moments and crappy feelings, I must remain optimistic, even playful – because that is my nature, it is who I am at the core. I thank nature for the myriad of gifts I’ve received and have shared with you in this piece. May we each look around us at the gifts that nature presents, and seek the symbolic meaning of these treasures to keep us going – by loving, hoping, and keeping faith.