Hummingbirds and Herons

Moving to Texas from St. Paul has been a harder adjustment than anticipated. Everything feels upside down—we barreled right past Spring on the 1200 mile drive, the highways are huge, and the suburban sprawl is more serious than the Texan drawl.

One of the things I loved about living in St. Paul was the plethora of birds. I grew up rural but never encountered so many birds as I did living in the Twin Cities. Upon arriving in Texas, I ached at the lack of birds. The only birds I saw at first were turkey buzzards and vultures—they were everywhere. Black birds of death circling bloated carcasses, alongside roads and in the numerous fields of Hill Country.

Then, I got back to writing. I sat on the porch of our temporary lodging and scrawled out some terrible uncertain words of my maybe-next novel. I paused and looked up at exactly the right moment to catch a hummingbird fly nearby. It hovered close enough to hear the buzz of its wings, to see its wings shimmering in the sunlight.

I know from my too-often forays onto Twitter that some of those in Texas have yet to see a hummingbird this year. I was lucky to have this visitor.

A few days later, I caught sight of a heron flying overhead, sweeping forward with its barrel chest. Herons have always shown up for me when I am home somewhere, crossing my path at the most needed times.

I used to work in a small retail store that sold eco-friendly and fair-trade household goods. We had a sign that read, Don’t forget to look up, to help folks notice the items we hung from the ceiling.

I was forgetting to look up. I put all my attention on the buzzards on the ground, seeing them as omens of death instead of harbingers of change and transition. Moving is hard. Finding rhythm in a new pace is hard.  It requires faith that life is happening exactly as it should. That I am in the right place at the right time. Remembering to look up, finding my bird-visitors, that helps. And writing. No matter where I am, if I am writing, I am home.