It’s the winter solstice. Our days are at their shortest. Mrs. Lion and I maintain hummingbird feeders. We have two. One is in the front of the house suspended outside my home office window. The other in back, outside our living room. We both love watching the incredibly tiny birds as they get nectar from the feeders.
A few years ago, we had a two week cold spell. The temperature didn’t go above 20-degrees. The sugar water in our feeders froze solid.
One morning, I saw that the perch around our feeder was full. There were at least six little birds trying to get some nectar. This is very unusual. Generally they feed one at a time. The birds were pecking at the frozen sugar water. Their desperation was obvious. I went out and got the feeder. It took a little while to thaw, but I finally had liquid.
I brought it back outside. The hummingbirds were gone. They never came back. Those tiny birds died of cold and starvation.
It makes me sad to this day when I remember them huddled on the perch around our feeder trying vainly to get the food they needed to stay alive. I know this was a small tragedy in a world filled with much larger ones. But this one was on me.
The little birds weren’t angry. They didn’t ask for anything. They didn’t expect anyone to save them. Nonetheless I was responsible.
The reason I share this memory at a time of celebration and feasting is that it reminds me that no matter how little we have, we are rich if we have each other.
It’s back in the 20’s again. The hummingbirds won’t starve this winter. We have heated feeders that keep the nectar available no matter how cold it gets outside.
As I sit here writing, a hummingbird just stopped at the feeder outside my window. She’s one little bird who will live to enjoy the spring when it finally arrives. That is a Christmas gift I treasure.