Saturday, October 10, 2009

Emerald Green

I don't mean to freak you out, but I have a dead hummingbird lying on my nature table. I found it on the pavement outside of Talbot's two weeks ago, where I had gone to buy a new pair of black pants. My old pair, which could go anywhere from work to the opera, had died. I don't know about you, but I really need a good pair of black pants.

Karen, the best saleswoman on the planet, was there because I was praying the whole time I was walking up there that she would be. She's even tinier than I am, knows the merchandise in and out, and has the gift of knowing exactly what I, not a good shopper, should buy. I explained my predicament. She walked several paces to a rack of trousers, plucked off a trim pair-- exactly my size-- and swung them in my direction. "This is it," she said. "You can wear them anywhere, throw them in the machine and they're ready to go. Perfect every time."

Leaving the store triumphant, I noticed a speck of emerald green on the expansive esplanade in front. Emerald is an unusual color, so I was curious and approached the speck. A dead hummingbird, of all things, in the middle of the sea of pavement! My immediate thought was to fish a tissue out of my purse, scoop him up and gently deposit him under a bush. But-- how often do you get to see a hummingbird? If you see them, as soon as you see them, they are gone, out of there, faster than the blink of an eye...

So at first, I stared. At his plumage, shimmering emerald. At his long, needle-thin beak. At the tiny ruff of feathers around his neck-- a circlet for a prince. (I'm guessing this bird was male because male birds seem to get all the gorgeous colors.) How did he come to be in this sea of pavement?

I walked home holding him in the tissue, and soon, when I can bear to let him go, he'll be buried amidst the ferns of my garden, ashes to ashes, green to green, another bit of stardust in this shimmering web of life.