So you've got this here roly poly 83 year old female shlepping an aching, used up body out of bed on a Sunday morning, wondering if the 3 Sunday football games on TV is enough reason to go on living...........mutter, mutter, grumble, mumble, shit, piss, fuck. Why should a person bother to go on?
But what can one do but ignore the broken hip (mostly healed), the gimpy knee (supposedly fixed by surgery....ha.......) the non working left eye, the arthritic spine and a few other disasters and stagger into the kitchen to check out the hummingbird feeder status. (yes, yes, of course it's me.....who else feeds hummingbirds before having juice or a sip of coffee even) Oy!
The little alcove outside my kitchen window has 5 feeders most of which are empty..........a whole passel, a veritable squadron of hummers (is a squadron bigger than a passel?) are doing their whirling dervish dance in the space between the feeders and the noise is amazingly like a jet plane. I already have 2 filled feeders on the sink waiting from pre-planning the night before so I fling open the atrium door and rush out,dripping sticky sugar water on naked toes, and hang them in the most preferred locations. Gathering the empties I reenter the atrium to find my worst nightmare is realized......there is a jet plane INSIDE the atrium, 19 or 20 feet up where the skylight is located above the spiral staircase to the guest suite. Sadly there is a gene all hummers carry which tells them that when the sky solidifies above them they must just flap those wings harder and faster till one of 2 things happen:
1. the sky unsolidifies
2. the hummer runs out of gas and faints
I need not tell you that I have never observed the first possible result, while I have often witnessed the second one. Consequently, several years ago I purchased a sturdy 6 foot long handled fishing net (suitable for scooping huge fish out of the water into the boat) and keep it handy for possible humming bird invasions.
Only trouble being that usually they invade the sun room where the skylight is only 8 feet above the floor and quite reachable with the net......what I have here is a near impossible situation...........sigh.
So I retrieve the net from the sun room and grab a stepstool along the way and drag my aching bones up the spiral staircase to the tippy top landing and find I cannot quite reach the top of the skylight without climbing up on the step stool. Carefully checking to be sure I have my "Mobile Alert" pendant firmly around my neck, I climb up one step and there I totter, sweeping back and forth with the net in the skylight trying to net the bird while the creature, undoubtedly more adept than myself, manages to avoid every swipe, still flapping frantically and waiting for the sky to unsolidify. Finally, after about 3 or 4 minutes of this I decide that if there is one thing in the world I don't want it is another broken something from a fall off of a stepstool and the top of a spiral staircase. My one remaining active braincell flickers and I descend to a solid stance on the top step just at the same moment that Mr. or Ms. Hummer faints. Tenks gott.
To take you out of your misery I'll make a long silly story shorter and report that, after a frantic search, I found my victim lying on the window sill halfway up the stair, gently enclosed the precious creature in my hand, carried it outside and shoved the open beak into the feeding hole of the nearest feeder and just waited, praying that I would not have to resort to the drop of brandy I administered in an earlier rescue. In a few seconds I felt the wings gave a few tremors and I opened my hand to see the victim dash off into the sky which, fortunately, did NOT solidify over him.
At this point I was the one who needed the brandy...... (Damn I wish I could still drink the stuff).......and as I sank limply into my recliner I realized that I had just managed to save a hummer AND live through a brand new adventure.............maybe it is too soon to cash in my chips after all. Guess I'll stick around and see what happens to morrow.
The New Yorker covers: February 10, 1975
4 hours ago