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Of Hunters and Hummingbirds

Heather Lende

I was on my into the grocery store when I saw Doug Olerud come out of the sports shop next door with a hummingbird feeder, and then prop the door wide open.

I had just been thinking about Doug, and what a good advocate he was for the library when he was on the borough assembly. (We could use him in the current budget talks.) Anyway, I went in to tell him so, but there was a crowd -- four is a crowd, right? -- trying to shoo a panicked hummingbird out the front door.

The little bird was zipping back and forth and up and down among the stuffed bears, moose heads, ducks, fish, and caribou and deer antlers. There are also stuffed mountain goats, sheep, a sea lion even, I think, and a small mink or marten standing lifelike on a shelf over by the backpacks. It's like a natural history museum in there.

Doug's dad Dave (who is responsible for many of the trophies in the store), was particularly concerned about the fate of the hummingbird. If she kept buzzing like that for too long, without any food, her tiny metabolic engine would run out of gas. Dave made us all go to the back of the store so the hummer would see the the clear path out the open doors to the red feeder. The other sportsmen were also doing their best to encourage the bird to fly free, and save it from the same fate as all the other critters in the shop.

When I noted the irony in this, Doug pointed out that you can't eat a hummingbird. He was teasing, because clearly Doug and guys know that spring hummingbirds nourish us in other, more important ways. They are the hopeful things with feathers. Anyone who has ever watched the spunky, mini-miracles with wings hover by a feeder or flit about in fireweed flowers knows that.

Heather Lende writes from Haines. Her new book is "Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs." This post originally appeared on her blog. It has been reprinted with permission.