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May 3, 2004
Betty says today's the day, Genevra wrote yesterday.

Betty is the one who knows when to feed the hummingbirds. Quickly I filled a pan with four cups of water and one cup of sugar and boiled them together for ten minutes. Then I let it cool and filled some of my hummingbird feeders. For someone who's never had a hummingbird, I sure do have a lot of hummingbird feeders. I guess hope really does spring eternal.

The redbud tree in front, on which I used to hang three little globe feeders, is much taller this year. I hang one there. And one on the dogwood. And one on the old clotheline post. And one from the hook that hangs down from the roof.

As the sweet water poured through Q's little funnel into the waiting vessels, I thought of it trickling down the tiny throats. They have long beaks, and longer tongues: the beak functions as a kind of cable for the work of their tongues, opening the throat of a flower so that their tongues can extend into it and get the sweetness that hides there.

If the humingbirds don't arrive -- as they have not for these many years -- ants will crawl into the feeders and binge on sugar water. Some will drown in it, as human addicts dream of drowning in chocolate. A lesser person would consider this a failure, but not me. Ants have to eat. And birds eat ants.

In two days I will gather all the feeders and empty what's left in them, together with the ant corpses, down the drain. Then I'll make more sugar water and begin again, imagining the little birds' grateful sips. Maybe they will never come. But maybe they're here. Maybe they're drinking already, when I'm not looking. Maybe they're just shy.
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