Come August

September 6, 2022

I live in the Southeastern United States where I am graced by the witness of Ruby-throated hummingbirds.  Each March, the scouts (males) begin to arrive here, searching for hospitable courting and nesting grounds.  Around late April, early May, the females arrive, and I spend a good part of my summer keeping two hummingbird feeders clean and filled with fresh sugar water.  The tiny, mosaic birds delight as they dart past my windows, light in my flowers, and divebomb each other.  (How they ever mate is beyond me.)  I love to listen to them twitter to each other. I love the sound of the buzz when they zoom over my head.  I love when they hover in front of me, as if to say, “Thank you.”

Come August, I notice the males sipping the nectar more frequently and staying longer at the feeders, and I know their return trip is approaching.  Each year, these birds, weighing no more than a paper clip, make the autumn migration across the Eastern part of the country and down to southern Mexico where they winter before returning in the spring.  Most stay along the coastline of Texas as they fly south, but some of the more intrepid will fly the 600 miles across open waters over the Gulf of Mexico.  Come August, my heart turns melancholy.

First the males will depart, then, perhaps a month or so later, the females will follow as will the young birds, and the feeders will be empty.  I will take them down, wash them, and store them, my sign of faith in the birds’ return.  While I understand the persistence of instinct, I still marvel at the risks these most delicate of creatures take and wonder how many will perish along the way.  I look at my own life and consider what masses of land, what bodies of water, I have not dared to cross and what I have lost because I didn’t simply take the first step.

Come August, as the birds depart, the flowers that fed them die, and the leaves begin to turn and fall, I think about all the courage it takes to let go and to trust a leap (or even a few steps) of faith.  I pray that when the scouts return next March, they will find me on the other side. Blessings ~ Rosemary

Come August

Swathed in crimson & emerald, the hummingbird returns,
again, to feed, his delicate, cool tongue sipping
the nectar in preparation for his long journey
ahead. With just a turn of his head,
his glistening gorget changes from red to black
in the shifting light
before he buzzes away, to return in a few brief
moments.

The sun sets earlier now, the saffron verbena & purple torenia
beginning to fade while some early leaves
tinged in orange
are ready to carpet a path through the woods.
It is time for the hummingbird to leave, flying solitary
along the pathway mapped in memory
beside the Texas coastline or across the Gulf of Mexico,
flying solitary—male, female, young—low by day
to a winter home two thousand miles
away.

In just a few days, my window will be empty,
and I wonder. Where does the resolve to relinquish
come from, where the will to go forward,
to abandon all, to propel gossamer wings
into the wind
and turn?

© Rosemary McMahan

Photo credits: Turner Matthews, Decatur, AL USA

Author: rosemarymcmahan

Poet, writer, minister, wanderer, traveler on the way, Light-seeker ~ hoping others will join me on the journey of discovering who we are and were meant to be. You can reach me at 20rosepoet20@gmail.com or at my blog, Spirit-reflections.org.

8 thoughts on “Come August”

  1. Hi Rosemary, Oh, how I enjoyed your description of the hummingbirds.  It reminds me of the monarchs who fly to Mexico although I think it’s their descendants who return, not the south-flying monarchs themselves.  And the link to letting go made my eyes tear.  Really beautiful! Thanks for a glimpse into your backyard world and your prayer for relinquishment.  It’s a tough one for me but a goal—-

    Liz

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rosemary I loved your humming bird observations and your lovely poem. We too have a humming bird feeder and have observed all the same humming bird behaviours as you have. They give us so much pleasure to watch. I love how you equate their instincts to some of our human yearnings. Here in Vancouver we do have humming birds all year round. I think it might be the Anna’s hummingbird that winters here. We have to remember to bring the feeder in at night and put it out again in the morning to prevent it freezing. Blessings to you and thank you for your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this lovely response, Jocelyn. It is much appreciated. And yes, I believe you have the Anna’s hummingbirds in your area. They must be hardier than the Ruby-throated! Enjoy them!

      Like

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