Tara, an old friend blogging at Out of the Lotus commented,
I have read that the hummingbird is a symbol of resurrection, T. Try that one on for size.
So during lunch today I googled "hummingbird resurrection" on my iPhone, and happened upon this marvelous piece from the NYTimes by Diane Ackerman, who writes,
"...in American Indian myths and legends, hummingbirds are often depicted as resurrection birds, which seem to die and be reborn on another day or in another season."
And a little further on,
"While most birds are busy singing a small operetta of who and what and where, hummingbirds are virtually mute. Such small voices don't carry far, so they don't bother much with song."
Why was I so lucky to hear that tiny rattly trill?
I left work early to get ready for sis-in-law-Shelley's memorial, and while the iron was heating up (so I could press those insistent wrinkles from a linen dress), I charged down to the basement where most of my books still lie packed in boxes, looking for Making Certain It Goes On, The Collected Poems of Richard Hugo, looking for a poem to read in Shelley's memory.
She and I shared a passion for poetry, and when I married her brother Mark, back in the last millennium, she read The Trout, by Hugo, at the ceremony -- an odd choice, which still perplexes me. We gave her full rein to choose something to read, and for some reason never asked why she chose that particular poem. Who knows? I'll never know now. (It doesn't matter now.)
But I veered here somehow, somewhere, from a funeral to a wedding....
Back to business: I had about four minutes to find the book I desired, and was thanking myself for organizing this stuff last week when I went in search of my jewelry (found!). BUT NO RICHARD HUGO. Rats!
Lots of small press stuff, lots of Floating Bridge Press stuff, lots of Copper Canyon Press stuff.....lots of poetry, but not what I was looking for. Running short on time, I grabbed Raymond Carver's A New Path to the Waterfall -- his last book, published posthumously, in 1989. Ran up two flights of stairs, ironed my dress, combed my hair and sat down on the bed, for, what? Ten seconds? And the book opened to this poem (which I ended up reading at the memorial):
Suppose I say summer,
write the word "hummingbird,"
put it in an envelope,
take it down the hill
to the box. When you open
my letter you will recall
those days, and how much,
just how much, I love you.
Is there anything else to say here?
Well, yes there is.
In the midst of writing this blog piece, my email dinged, indicating some new mail. From my friend Cz., with a link about -- yes -- hummingbirds, including these words:
In many traditional cultures of the western world the hummingbird has powerful religious and spiritual significance. In the high Andes of South America, for example, the hummingbird is taken to be a symbol of resurrection. This is because each hummer becomes lifeless and seems to die on cold nights, but it comes back to life again when the miraculous sunrise brings warmth.
And on the lookout for that sunrise.