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  • Inside the nature center where I once worked, high above our heads, spiderwebs captured hummingbirds. The birds struggled and struggled, but could not free themselves. In the summer heat, the employees had opened the doors in hopes of a breeze. Hummingbirds, attracted to the feeders just outside the door, became confused by arriving visitors, flew into the building and were trapped, first inside the building and then in the spiderwebs.

    Their metabolism is so high that if they weren't freed before sunset, they could die overnight in the webs. They needed to feed and roost properly to survive the night.

    Although I hadn't worked at the nature center in years, I got out the ladder, climbed to the webs, and carefully wrapped my hands around the struggling birds. I could hardly believe how tiny they were. I felt the rapid pulse of their hearts against my palms.

    Sunset approached as I took them out and away from the building. I opened my hands and watched them fly. I hoped they had time for enough food to keep them alive over the night. I had acted as quickly as I could and been rewarded with the incredible privilege of holding their hearts in my hands and setting them free.
  • Notes:

    1)the art piece is by me, tonight, in my new California/Malasia Sketchbook, in soft pastels.

    2)I marked it "summer," because it was summer when this happened, "outsiders" because I no longer worked at the nature center and was definitely an outsider there, and "working" because I had worked there for many years in the past and was doing nature center work.

    3)The story is dedicated to Erin and Kiki (with the picture, of course). The art (with the story) is dedicated to Jim and Chris Niskanen. (We really enjoyed the hummingbirds in their back yard when we visited them last month.)
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