Cooking for hummingbirds

July 2, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

I went outside a couple of nights ago to empty the compost bucket, for which there is a pile next to the barn on this property. Later, the wildlife digs in to see what I have left them and the pile, which is not actually meant to feed the gardens, stays flat.

However, it was late and had been raining hard. The rain had stopped, leaving all in deep darkness. Flashlight or no, the path to the compost was grumpy, reflecting the weak light back on itself and giving me pause. Even the dog, Chandler, stretched her nose in the same direction and pulled back, her hackles raised. We don’t expect much in the way of bears but there have been plenty of coyote sightings, dangerous predators for household pets. We left the bucket at the end of the walk and went back indoors.

In the morning, there was debris from the compost, shells of lemons, leaf of leek, pit of avocado but the bucket was gone. 

“Why would racoons want a bucket?” I asked Chandler but she didn’t know.

It was my birthday this week and I was thinking about birthdays. 

One year, Patricia and I were in Rome for her birthday, which is in October, a lovely time of year to be in Italy. We have very dear friends in Rome, where we stay and with whom we generally dine while we are there. 

We had made a day of it. The elder of the two sons, Fulvio, took us a special trip to the Roman Forum, the ruins of the ancient city that was Rome thousands of years ago. There are the foundations of the first house in Rome that are 3,000 years old. A collection of three pillars mark the temple of Vesta, the temple of the Vestal Virgins, the powerful priestesses of ancient Rome. 

The senate is the most complete building, still intact, first built in 44 BC, its mosaic floor, which has since been restored, was clearly visible as it was when feet tread upon it 2,000 years ago. 

To stand among the stones, as Fulvio told Patricia, was to be in a place, easy to imagine as the market, the places of power, the houses of people running their normal lives all those long years ago. Now, we were still in Rome, in the same location as Rome had always been for so long. I never understood why curriculum and teachers made learning history so dull, melting it down to a list of monarchs and battles.

Later we returned to the home of our friends, to dine and sing the old refrain amid candles and joy.

I celebrated one of my birthdays in the city of Beira, on the coast of Mozambique. We were dining in a restaurant with a bay window that overlooked the water of the Indian Ocean, coming in shallow at the shore. There stood hundreds of flamingoes, preening themselves with their hooked bills or dipping into the water in search of small fish. They were a panorama of pink feathers, constantly moving, shifting as a whole, a few flying in or taking off, beautiful and strange. 

There were other birthday parties in London, UK; happy times in Canada as a child and once Patricia and I returned to live here but one thing I think for sure is every birthday is significant, our own personal new year’s eve and day. Some people brushed them off as a depressing reminder of the rushing years, faster, it seems, with every birthday and our mirrors reflect those grey hairs and changes of aging in our faces.

Here is the lesson: to decide what we want and what we’ll give with every precious day. I reckon the meaning of life is how each of us benefits the others, with as little as a smile, a compliment, an offer of support. The moments in a day used to make someone laugh are time well spent and the science is clear that time spent in argument and anger is an assault on our well being.

In this weird year, with what seems like the same 20 jokes keep finding different formats and the never ending photos of animals being cute – if these had calories! We seem to be living in a state of constant conversation, maybe one screen or more on all the time. There may come new definitions for loneliness, different and lazier ways of being together.

Personally, I like everybody’s birthdays, focussing less to the passage of time and more to celebrating the day itself and the person central to it. The well wishes we deliver to each other for a “Happy Birthday!” are as the healthiest thing you can consume.

Sometimes, I tell a person that my birthday is coming up and ask them to toast my day with the libation they may indulge, wish me well. 

We can never get too much of being wished well, nor wish it too often for others. 

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