This was no dream -- I was standing out back with the garden hose, trying to help the plants cope with the wilting heat of the afternoon, when a little shape, flying too rapidly to identify, shot toward the dogwood tree.
I stopped watering, the hose forgotten in my hand. I didn't breathe. I think my heart may have stopped. Are you my hummingbird?
The tiny missile flew over the tree and out of sight. My heart sank -- maybe she didn't see the feeders, the columbines, the foxglove, the wisteria, all the geraniums. Maybe she's just on her way to somewhere else. Maybe she wasn't even a hummingbird at all -- maybe she was a large dragonfly.
But then there she was again, and this time she hovered over the green hips of the departed dogwood flowers. Nothing good to eat there.
Oh, look down here, I said desperately, pointing as if giving directions to a lost motorist, columbines! She flew toward the garage and disappeared from view.
I stood still for a long time, the hose forgotten in my hand, watching for her return, thinking of what, exactly, she had looked like. Where, exactly, she had been. Right there. My hummingbird had been right there.
After a time I went around front. Many more flowers there, in many more shapes and colors. A nation of hummingbirds could eat themselves sick on the Farm. I scanned the tops of plants for a little whirring shape. No -- bumble bees busy with their pollen, butterflies flitting here and there, assessing the readiness of the buddleia, a little breeze ruffling the blue lobelia.
I stayed outside for a long time. Somehow I didn't want to share my news. Somehow it seemed secret. Who should I tell? When should I tell? When should I go inside and resume my life? I didn't want to, not yet. I wanted to stay in the garden and look a the place where she had been.
Guess what I saw in the garden, I said to Q. He named a flower. No. Is it a plant? No An animal? Yes. A cat? No. I paused and said nothing, my eyes boring into his. Was it...? I nodded. A hummingbird finally came.
I called my daughters. I would wait until this morning to tell everyone else.
Something for which you've waited years. Something for which you've prepared. I knew I would dream about my hummingbird, and I did. An old woman and I were talking about it. I have dreamed of her before, this old woman. I think she must be God. I told her that I was afraid my hummingbird would never return, that I would never see her again.
Birds are smart about food. My hummingbird didn't miss a thing in her surveillance. She'll be back, the old woman said, and I knew that she was right.