An Evening in July

Sunset was near. I walked to the street to the mailbox and saw our neighbor Sarah drive up. I was eager to see her as I wanted to tell her about the Rose Breasted Grosbeak that had appeared in the large pine tree outside our kitchen window. Sarah’s bird feeder in her back yard attracts a wide variety of birds and the Grosbeak, feathered in well-defined black and white with a bright red patch on its breast, is among the most beautiful. Sarah had seen a Grosbeak too last week and we talked about how the bird, large among his peers, claims exclusivity when at the feeder. Looking skyward, we saw black clouds swirling in the west. The clouds were getting close. Prudence dictated we cut short our talk and bid each other good evening.

As we did, the town’s severe weather sirens began screaming. An announcement of a severe weather alert came across the town loudspeakers.

I found shelter on the front porch with Susan. She reported multiple visits by hummingbirds this evening, predominantly by a female we call Juliet. (All females are Juliets and their male counterparts are Romeos.) A feeder hangs from a Shepard’s hook in front of our porch, and Susan and I have discovered that watching these remarkable birds presents much more entertainment that television has to offer nowadays.

A few moments passed and the rain came. With it came a hummingbird to the feeder; a juvenile Romeo. He disregarded the rain and perched himself on the feeder and drank for a time. The rain intensified. Neither Susan nor I expected his visit to last long as the downpour began bouncing off the driveway. Romeo surprised us.

He ignored the rain and continued drinking. The storm intensified, but he remained. I said to Susan I was afraid he wouldn’t be able to fly away through all this rain and wind. As if replying to my skepticism, Romeo raised his long bill straight up at the sky into the falling droplets. He shook his head back and forth, fluttered his wings and convinced us that he was reveling in the storm. He continued this action as if to convince us that he was an amused by the weather as Susan and I were at watching him.

Finally, Romeo took one last drink for the evening, hovered for a moment, and darted out toward the street, past the neighboring homes, and into the forest beyond.

Little could Romeo know how much enjoyment he offered a retired couple on a porch. And sharing it with Susan multiplied the delight. I am thankful.

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