The helicopter of doubt

by mammalfish

Today on my porch I was drilling holes in PVC piping. Listening to a podcast piped into my ears. Falling into a rhythm of cutting, drilling, wiping away the bits of dusty white plastic. And then an animal droned my head.

A female rufous hummingbird, no ruby-throat but still dressed in jewel tones, dusty soft green and brown like a tiny lady in woven silks. She had brush-strokes of black around her eyes.

She came alarmingly close. Up off my right shoulder. Hummingbirds are the closest things to fish you find in the air. She darted and glimmered. And she hung still, confronting me, up from the garden like a fairy who’d come to deliver a lecture.

In moments like these all I wonder about is perception. What does she see? The drill in my hand was fire-orange. My only conclusion is that, from afar, she must have seen my hands as a profusion of blooms. The narration of a hummingbird’s mind is, “Sugar, sugar, drink, find.” Only I suppose they might think faster than us because they move at a smaller, quicker scale. She flew to me with the determination of the ultimately hungry, metabolically-pressed tiny heart beating.

Only when she was a yard away did the rest of me emerge out of the soft greys and greens of my background, wood and furnishings on the deck, a concealed giant holding my confusing vibrancy in one hand. Only danger, no nourishment. She hovered for a full ten seconds, one of those rare moments in which you get to see a wild animal making a decision. Her mind the size of a thimble but still very keen, still one of the greatest computers in the known universe, she finally saw me for what I was, and she fish-tailed away.


“Rufous hummingbird female,” by Sberardi

I haven’t been here for awhile, which is a shame because since I last posted, WordPress posted my audio story for SURGE podcast, Tarpon, on its Freshly-Pressed page–and about a million kind people listened in and gave me the best feedback imaginable. Seriously, you guys, I don’t think any of you could have known what that would mean to me. Not to put too fine a point on it, that experience re-invigorated my faith in myself as a creative person. So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart! And there will be more pieces like that one in the future. And please go on over to SURGE podcast to hear more of their innovative collaborations of stories and sound.

In the mean time, hello to new followers! I hope my long absence hasn’t left you too cold! Stay tuned for more off-beat commentary on animals, thinking, science, art, and more. I’m so happy that you’re here.