It’s a pretty, sunny morning, the air cool and fresh, and I am having my coffee out on the balcony with Dixie on my lap. Sitting in a cedar Adirondack chair, looking toward the west, I am enjoying the view of mature birch trees against a blue sky above, green shrubs and large rocks in a planted bioswale below, birds up and about chirping their greetings, and squirrels racing up and down the trees with a job to do. It’s the perfect setting every morning.

Birch tree bioswale

“Nice out here, isn’t it, Dixie?”

She looks up at me with eyes that say, “Yes, it is,” then sighs and buries her little head in the crook of my arm.

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Balcony garden with Dixie

Just as I speak, I see something out of the corner of my eye. I turn to see a hummingbird coming up to the balcony. “Well,” I think to myself, “aren’t we lucky.” It’s an Anna’s Hummingbird – the one year-round resident hummer in Oregon.

This spring, purposely for hummingbirds’ nourishment and my enjoyment, I potted several plants known to attract hummingbirds, including plants with brightly-colored tubular flowers that hold the most nectar and are particularly attractive to them. My balcony garden includes the perennial bee balm, sunset hyssop, hibiscus, and various salvias; the biennial hollyhock; and the annual impatiens and petunias. The hummingbirds like the red, orange, and purple color blossoms the best.

The pots on the balcony are close to where I sit each morning. One highlight of the morning is to watch hummingbirds flit in and out as they sip the nectar in their chosen blossoms. It never ceases to amaze me how they fly forward and backward with ease and beauty, beating their wings with such a blurring rapidity that they produce a buzz I can clearly hear. Their brightly-colored, iridescent feathers and quick movements make them appear as little sun catchers.

I watch as this fascinating hummingbird flies back and forth, side to side, forward and backward, from blossom to blossom. Hovering in mid-air, it holds its spot without any support – like I tread water (except my legs don’t kick nearly as swiftly). With its long, slender beak, it sips the nectar from a bright red and orange flower. When its beak finds the sweet nectar, I can hear a short, high-pitched, squeaky chirp. Dixie hears it, too, and perks up, attentive and watchful to the tiny bird.

After whizzing about, the hummingbird lands on a leather cord holding a shiny glass ornament that hangs from a shepherd’s hook in one of the pots. From its perch on the leather cord, it stretches its little neck and long beak to every flower within reach. I imagine the energy it must expend and the amount of nectar it must eat every day to replace the calories it burns up.

Hummingbird perch

I watch as the hummingbird visits every blossom on the salvia varieties. Dixie, too, watches quietly, fascinated by this little winged creature. The hummingbird surveys the rest of the pots for more blossoms, pokes at the double red hibiscus a few times, makes its rounds to the impatiens and petunias, and then hovers over the balcony, looking out at the view, seemingly full and satisfied.


Suddenly, to my amazement, the hummingbird turns and flies up close to me, maybe just three feet from my nose. It dances for me, in and out, in and out, several times.

I don’t know hummingbird speak, but it seems to me the beautiful, tiny creature is saying, “Thank you.” I say aloud, “You’re welcome, Hummingbird. Thank you for your visit.”

On the Medicine Wheel as compiled by Jamie Sams and David Carson in their book Medicine Cards, Hummingbird holds the sacred space of Joy. Its song awakens the medicine flowers. First Peoples say that Hummingbird visits us to remind us to be more joyful and playful, to adapt and change when we find ourselves taking life so seriously, to embrace love and beauty and joy in every aspect of our journey and soul flight, to “get ready to laugh musically” and “experience a renewal of the magic of living.” These are also Dixie’s gifts to me. She might be a little hummingbird shapeshifter.

Now I will enjoy the succulent nectar of life and the essence of bliss in a slice of homemade peach pie (recipe flew in from a friend in Ohio). A little sugar always brings a little happy hum to my day.

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Peach pie

Composed on September 2, 2018 – five weeks after adopting my little Dixie Daisy, a one-and-a-half-year-old Miniature Pinscher/Chihuahua mix rescue dog from the Oregon Humane Society.