Miracle. All of it.

Consider the hummingbird for a long moment. A hummingbird’s heart beats ten times a second. A hummingbird’s heart is the size of a pencil eraser. A hummingbird’s heart is a lot of the hummingbird. Joyas voladoras, flying jewels, the first white explorers in the Americas called them, and the white men had never seen such creatures, for hummingbirds came into the world only in the Americas, nowhere else in the universe, more than three hundred species of them whirring and zooming and nectaring in hummer time zones nine times removed from ours, their hearts hammering faster than we could clearly hear if we pressed our elephantine ears to their infinitesimal chests.

Each one visits a thousand flowers a day. They can dive at sixty miles an hour. They can fly backwards. They can fly more than five hundred miles without pausing to rest. But when they rest they come close to death: on frigid nights, or when they are starving, they retreat into torpor, their metabolic rate slowing to a fifteenth of their normal sleep rate, their hearts sludging nearly to a halt, barely beating, and if they are not soon warmed, if they do not soon find that which is sweet, their hearts grow cold, and they cease to be. Consider for a moment those hummingbirds who did not open their eyes again today, this very day, in the Americas: bearded helmet-crests and booted racket-tails, violet-tailed sylphs and violet-capped woodnymphs, crimson topazes and purple-crowned fairies, red-tailed comets and amethyst woodstars, rainbow-bearded thornbills and glittering-bellied emeralds, velvet-purple coronets and golden-bellied star-frontlets, fiery-tailed awlbills and Andean hillstars, spatuletails and pufflegs, each the most amazing thing you have never seen, each thunderous wild heart the size of an infant’s fingernail, each mad heart silent, a brilliant music stilled.

Hummingbirds, like all flying birds but more so, have incredible enormous immense ferocious metabolisms. To drive those metabolisms they have race-car hearts that eat oxygen at an eye-popping rate. Their hearts are built of thinner, leaner fibers than ours. Their arteries are stiffer and more taut. They have more mitochondria in their heart muscles—anything to gulp more oxygen. Their hearts are stripped to the skin for the war against gravity and inertia, the mad search for food, the insane idea of flight. The price of their ambition is a life closer to death; they suffer more heart attacks and aneurysms and ruptures than any other living creature. It’s expensive to fly. You burn out. You fry the machine. You melt the engine. Every creature on earth has approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime. You can spend them slowly, like a tortoise and live to be two hundred years old, or you can spend them fast, like a hummingbird, and live to be two years old.

Brian Doyle, from “Joyas Voladoras


Notes:

  • Photo:Beth with Hummingbird
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.
  • Inspiration: Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

 

Comments

  1. I’d like to marvel at the hummingbird and it’s life, for two hundred years

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sharon Yannarella says:

    Ah, this is so lovely. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A beautiful gem in nature! So much to learn from them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. it says so much about the way we pace ourselves as humans, and choose to live as well. they are truly wonders.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was on the phone last week mid-chat and practically dropped it — a hummingbird was in our 6th floor balcony flowers. SO COOL. They are amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The key is to find a happy medium between 2 and 200.

    Like

  7. This description makes me think “The Ferrari of the bird world!”
    They are really busy right now stocking up their energy supplies at our feeders, before heading south. Within the next couple of weeks they will be gone… and life will be a little calmer once more.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m always amazed to see them in northern Canada when visiting family and here in Michigan ~ they define “small but mighty.” Like others, I’ve caught myself holding my breath when I see one ~ amazing!! MJ

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    It’s indeed a miracle … ‘Hummingbirds, like all flying birds but more so, have incredible enormous immense ferocious metabolisms.’
    Amazing little birds!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m so mesmerized by hummingbirds, flying jewels, live that. I have never seen one. And every now and then I live watching videos of hummingbirds building their teeny tiny nests.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Teeny Tiny…like that…

      Like

      • And…
        You know what else I haven’t seen? Redwoods! Getting ready for breakfast and then Redwoods here in California. My heart is going to jump out of my chest until we get there.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You are in California?

          Like

        • I am excited for YOU!! You will always remember the Majestic, Mighty Giants…lay on the ground and look up, touch the bark, try making a hand to hand ring around the truck with many people (the girth unreal)…breath deep the clean air, relish the silence in the forest…you might find the spot where you can drive through the heart of a Redwood…Hope you drive through the Avenue of the Giants! Walk the trials…Jedidiah Smith is North on 199, Prairie Creek Redwood Park south on the 101 near Orick. you also might try to fit in a stop at Muir Woods (north of San Francisco & south of the Redwood) Enjoy!! your vacation.

          Liked by 2 people

          • I still have no words to express yesterday between the Redwoods, at their roots.
            But I’ll say this, it seems only natural that when you meet something, some beautiful exchange takes place!

            I still cannot put this exchange in words ❤

            It took my breath away.

            Liked by 1 person

          • So glad you had this experience. The Redwoods are a wonder of the world.

            Liked by 1 person

          • The redwoods knock all words out of them. Nick drives in silence. Even the young trunks are like angels. And when, after a few miles, they pass a monster, sprouting a first upward-swooping branch forty feet in the air, as thick as most eastern trees, he knows: the word tree must grow up, get real. It’s not the size that throws him, or not just the size. It’s the grooved, Doric perfection of the red-brown columns, shooting upward from the shoulder-high ferns and moss-swarmed floor—straight up, with no taper, like a russet, leathery apotheosis. And when the columns do start to crown, it happens so high, so removed from the pillars’ base, that it might as well be a second world up there, up nearer eternity.

            ~ Richard Powers, The Overstory: A Novel (W. W. Norton & Company, April 3, 2018)

            Liked by 1 person

          • Thank you for sharing David!
            They knocked all the words out of me, yes 🙂
            The Silence was like it is where souls come from.

            Liked by 1 person

        • So good to hear back about your encounter…I know you cherish each memory.

          Liked by 2 people

  11. I have never actually seen one and I’m the poorer for it. But having read this, I imagined those tiny wonders of nature with their full-speed life lived to the max – and I forget to breathe with the miracle of all this. How very, very, incredibly wonder-full….. Thank You.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. They do live “life in the fast lane.”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Truly fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. We have a hummingbird feeder right outside our window, where the fairy-like jeweled creatures arrive in early May. By late June, they’re used to my face peering at them through the screened window, and allow me to watch them place their pointy feeding tube into the feeder hole and suck up the succulent sugar water we provide. At sunset, one lone hummer sets on top of the feeder, surveying his possession, sitting still for long long minutes, surprising me that even hummingbirds take a minute of repose.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Each year, we’re excited to welcome the hummingbirds to our patio. With multiple feeding stations and many flowers, we enjoy an amazing acrobatic show that beats anything you’ll see on TV or at the movies. We love these little fellas and miss them so much when they migrate.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. These tiny creatures are prime example of a grand creator. I enjoy sitting on our patio watching them speed by going from flower to flower on the patio.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I googled and read that very excerpt after you introduced us recently, to Brian Doyle,and his “Joyas Voladoras” I was so amazed that a hummingbird visits1,000 blooms a day to survive!!! /// The Miraculous tiny flying jewels visit the garden daily, this time of year. We always here them coming…Sometimes they barely clear our heads as we sit quietly. Sometimes they rest on foliage next to us, for what seems like five minutes! We love that opportunity to gaze at them. We see more than one variety in the summer. I also worry about the sweet birds in the winter. When I was a teenager my Aunt Athalie hosted a tiny, tiny hummingbird nest in a swirling, turn of her black rod iron railing…I love how we are gifted as life’s treasure reveal themselves as they go about their instinctive ways …

    Liked by 1 person

  18. What a magnificent description. I have a feeder outside and they flit back and forth. What zest for life, but the idea of them experiencing such painful maladies is overwhelmingly sad. When I was in Costa Rica, they were so tamed, they actually sat on your shoulders and arms. Thank you again!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Reblogged this on Sherrie's Scriptorium and commented:
    Hummingbirds are living miracles and full of life and beauty. Please enjoy David Kanigan’s post and visit his blog. It’s full of beautiful posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I LOVE hummingbirds. Often, they come fluttering by when I am trying to make a decision on something.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: