As a rule, though, these snowbound days can have a positive quality. Happiness is walking to a neighborhood Starbucks five blocks away.
But in these we're-doing-our-best-to-stay-warm-and-get-by days, I see an anomaly in my backyard.
For years I've watched two hummingbirds sipping sugar water at our feeder: One has a reddish head; one doesn't. And they chase each other with aerial agility not unlike UFO dash-and-hover-and-dart.
My provisioning problem is sugar solutions freeze. So I bring in the feeder overnight, let it thaw. But with really low temperatures, that's not enough. I have two feeders and swap in and out to keep the hummingbirds happy.
Or so I thought.
One is obviously not a born sharer. The past few days, he--who appears to be the fluffier of the two--sits on the bare wires of a vacant tomato cage stuck in an empty raised bed a few feet away from the feeder, his head with its stiletto beak swings right and left, right and left, like some metronome ... guarding, what else?.
As soon as the other shows up, out shoots Fluffy to chase him away.
So amidst the challenge of getting enough calories for a racecar metabolism and a snowy 23 degrees, Fluffy has the take-no-prisoners attitude. The law of the jungle writ small. Sometimes Fluffy will shoot up thirty feet to a nearby hawthorn branch, but as soon as his intruder appears, he's off in combat-intercept mode.
Fortunately, others on our block also have feeders (though I don't know if they do the overnight thawing and feeder swaps) and I'm sure when Fluffy makes the rounds, he surrenders his post so Skinny can get some life-sustaining nectar too. I've watched him sip unaccosted, sure Fluffy is occupied elsewhere. Again, I'm getting two hummers through a Portland winter.
Read Charlie Dickinson's
story collection, The Cat
at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable
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9:28:13 A Street Cat Named Bob, a book review
9:23:13 The Life & Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin, a book review
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8:19:13 The Worst Car Driver & Why
8:12:13 The Gardener from Ochakov, a book review
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7:20:13 This Ain't California
6:27:13 The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, a book review
5:29:13 My Linux (Mis)Adventures
5:25:13 Southern Cross the Dog, a book review
5:5:13 Russian Tumbleweed
4:16:13 "The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forster
3:25:13 Moore's Law
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2:28:13 Razor Blade in Moonlight
1:27:13 Made in Russia: Unsung Icons of Soviet Design, a book review
12:9:12 White Bread, a book review
12:4:12 Update on Old-School Shaving
11:12:12 Ten Great Buys at Dollar Tree
11:6:12 My New Russian Camera
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10:2:12 The Russian Navy in New York?
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9:14:12 Revolution, 1989, a book review
8:23:12 Train Whistles in the Night
8:2:12 Why I've Stockpiled Light Bulbs
7:22:12 Old-School Shaving
7:16:12 Злектроника МК-52, computer de minimus
7:4:12 Ivan's Childhood by Tarkovsky
6:21:12 The Unabomber, a modern Thoreau?
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5:28:12 On Taxes, We Should Go Green
5:17:12 Portland's Trash
5:6:12 The Toaster Project, a book review
4:24:12 No Seconds
4:12:12 Portland's Runaway Utility Bill
4:8:12 The Repossession, a book review
3:30:12 How I Got Published in Mississippi Review
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2:18:12 Beauty Plus Pity, a book review
2:5:12 Kirk's Castile Soap
1:29:12 Confessions of a Fallen Standard-Bearer, a book review
1:22:12 Thirst, a book review
1:17:12 My IBM ThinkPad 1999-2012
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12:22:11 Spiritual TMJ
12:16:11 1Q84, a book review
12:11:11 How Portland Became Portlandia
12:1:11 The Fixie
11:20:11 Camus' Insight
11:13:11 Old & Worthy
11:7:11 Life Is Tragic
10:31:11 A Matter of Death and Life, a book review
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10:1:11 The Sisters Brothers, a book review
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9:12:11 The Genius of Value
9:5:11 Death and the Penguin, a book review