The Flight of the Hummingbird

Taken from my office…

“You are Mr. Owl. I am Ms. Hummingbird. We may have come from different species, but as long as you’re a bird, I’m a bird too.” – Glad Munaiseche

Long ago and far away, we lived aboard MCAS, Cherry Point. For those non-Marine types in the crowd, that’s positioned in Craven County, North Carolina at the southern end of the Outer Banks chain. If you like water (salty or fresh), seafood straight from the water, sunshine, boats, and marines, Craven County is right up your alley. I loved living there. It was peaceful and that duty kept MarshFox home for an entire three years, for the most part. HooRah! It was here that I began my official writing career after not being able to land suitable employment after the transfer move from the last duty station. I had plenty of time on my hands, a computer, and e-publishing was just taking off spawning the rise of the small boutique press. I thought, why not! So, I did. Over the winter of 2009, I wrote my first novel. Well, the first one I would actually submit for publication. I’d tossed many attempted novels into many dumpsters prior to that. Or, they ended up in dusty boxes beneath the bed. In March of 2010, that first submittable piece was under contract. And, I was off to the races! Or presses as it were.

If the U.S. is a melting pot, the military is a melting vat. The number of cultures, ethnicities, and identities living and thriving together is absolutely astounding. In fact, our son had no idea derogatory comments about other races even existed until we lived out on the economy in 2002. Living on the economy means we were on independent duty and there was no base housing available so we lived in the community where MarshFox worked. I will never forget the horror of the day our son came home from the civilian public school and asked me what a particular phrase meant, which had been lobbed at him because he befriended a child whose skin was a different shade than his own. You might be wondering what the heck that has to do with hummingbirds…in due time grasshopper. Stick with me.

Fast forward from the derogatory phrase in 2002 to our time at Cherry Point in 2008. We’d been out shopping and to dinner one day and upon returning to quarters we discovered one of the hummingbirds that frequented our feeders had somehow managed to get into the screened in back porch and was literally dying right in front of us. He was clinging to the siding of the house and each of his breaths was labored. We managed to get him from his perch and in absolute shock, I realized I was actually holding a hummingbird. Yes, I had in my hand one of the tiny creatures capable of flying at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. I was completely humbled as we hand fed the poor exhausted thing sugar water off a spoon. After a few minutes, he recovered enough that his breathing picked up and as I opened my hand a bit wider, he fluttered his wings as if testing his stability before darting away. It was amazing!

Since then, I have been obsessed with hummingbirds and have never failed to have multiple feeders up wherever we’ve lived. Right now, from the comfort of my desk I can see two on my back deck and every few minutes a bird or three darts up, grabs a quick snack, and darts away again. None of them look alike aside from the feathers and beaks. None of them are concerned with that fact.

Did you know there are 361 species of hummingbird? They come in all sizes and colors. The colors! So many of them and so bright and vibrant. So, take a moment to think about that. 361 different hummingbirds alone. Then think about this: there are about 10,000 species of birds, each unique and each contributing its own special personality to the melting pot of birds. But as unique as they each are, they all share some commonalities. They’re all feathered. They all have beaks. They’re endothermic vertebrates. They all lay eggs. In other words, they have as much in common as they don’t.

Some are owls. Some are hummingbirds. They’re different, but the same.

If you are a bird, I am a bird, too. We may be different in many ways, but we share some commonalities. And we share this planet, along with 361 species of hummingbirds and 10,000 species of birds who might have difficulties and disagree at times. Ultimately, at the end of the day, they share the feeders.

So now you know. I’m a crazy bird lover who learns something new and philosophizes every day about the wonders of the world and the fact we all reside on this gigantic ball of dirt and rock flying through the universe at a ridiculous speed. If the birds can band together, maybe the rest of us can find it within ourselves to do so through kindness and love, by gathering around the feeders and sharing without much of a fuss. The world’s not perfect. I know that. I’m by no means a Polly Anna, but maybe we can make our own little corners of it a little more perfect. Positivity breeds positivity.

Smile today. Make eye contact with a stranger. Say hello. Pay someone a compliment. And take some time to watch the birds. They have a lot to teach us.

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