Friday, August 20, 2010

WINDOWSIDE HUMMERS

One of the joys of working from this riverside cottage is that in the midst of my daily stint slaving over a keyboard, while trying to herd words into sentences that resonate with poetry instead of falling onto the pixel page as though made of lead, I can always glance out my deskside window at flower beds, various trees, what passes for a lawn, and the sparkling river beyond.
Of course this blessing is also a sort of curse when it comes to getting work done and meeting deadlines. Quite regularly I find myself staring meditatively through the glass at the beckoning world beyond. Being of the literary sort, I like to say I'm musing, but I'm really just daydreaming.
Alternately, I'll be typing away and a flash of movement catches my eye. I look up, check out whatever it was that distracted me, perhaps grab camera or binoculars…and when I eventually return to my patient iMac, the little digital clock says I've just frittered away twenty minutes! Do this a few dozen times and that article or column which should have taken an hour or so to write has gobbled up most of the day!
No, don't bother suggesting I install a window blind. There's one already…and the last time it was lowered was when I tested it right after installation four years ago.
Equally pointless is any hint that I might at least show a bit more restraint regarding distractions and a shaky work ethic. I say temptation should at lest be considered, and providing it is not immoral, illegal, or fattening, probably given a whirl just to make sure it isn't something worthwhile. The interesting goings-on beyond the window are the main reason why I moved into this place, so why shouldn't they be given high priority?
Still…yesterday was a case in point of how pleasurably intrusive my window view can be, thanks to a steady stream of rubythroat hummingbirds who kept feeding on and fighting over a scarlet canna lily bloom located perhaps thirty inches beyond the glass.
The task at hand was a final revision of a column due on the editor's desk sometime during the day—a job which takes under an hour. I usually do a read-through right after breakfast, and have the piece polished, an accompanying letter written, and the whole package zapped off before I finish my coffee.
I've doubtless mentioned this before, but this summer there's been a rubythroat boom here along the river. I have out only two feeders filled with sugar water—same as last year and the summer before. Yet this time around the feisty little hummers have arrived in droves—squeaking, squabbling, zooming around like warp-speed warriors. As best I can count, there are at times—flying, feeding, and perched on twigs in the big box elder where I've hug the feeders—a dozen or more hummingbirds. And that's not counting any which might be investigating or sipping blooms in the nearby beds.
Too, the tiny birds—and especially the males—are probably now beginning the fueling process before their upcoming migration to wintering quarters in the tropics.
At any rate, a never-ending procession of hummers came to the canna lily bloom nearest the window yesterday—which provided countless minutes of exquisite distraction, lots of gaping in wonderment, and the occasional attempted photo op. I believe it was going on 2:30 p.m. when I finally manage to get my column off.
(And aren't you amazed? I had so much fun, I haven't once whined or griped about how near-impossible it was to get my camera to auto-focus through the glass, or how much I detested my messed-up vision with these malfunctioning contact lenses. Nope, not a single complaining word.)
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14 comments:

Jayne said...

Messed up vision my patootie! Through the glass my foot! THOSE are AMAZING captures!!! WOWOWOWOWOW! I am salivating just taking them in! Wow. Just wow.

George said...

I'm on the way out the door, Grizz, but, before leaving, I want to tell you how much I love these hummingbird photos! When I return this afternoon, I plan to study them a little more closely. I'm not sure what your forthcoming "corrected vision" will be, but your current vision -- meaning that of both the eye and the heart -- is dead on. The only negative part of this posting is my regret that I have not done more to attract hummingbird to my yard. Any suggestions?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

I was going to answer your comment with a shot I just made of the desk, computer screen, window, and canna lily beyond—but when I added it to this post, it appeared at the top, as the lead photo (which I certainly don't want!) and I can't move it down through the text and other pix to the bottom of the column. I'd have to reload all photos to place it at the bottom.

So, your call—either I do that or you'll just have to take my word for the circumstances and details…autofocused through the window glass. And a window badly in need of cleaning, I might add.

Also, my vision is indeed so messed up at reading distance that the only way I can read the print of this comment on my computer's screen, is to use the Mac's "Universal Access" feature and enlarge my screen view several hundred percent; each letter is an inch high. (And you thought I was bellyaching over mere fuzziness! Humph!) I CANNOT currently see well enough to focus through a viewfinder—but like the old Otis Redding song says…a change is gonna come.

Finally, you've made plenty of bird and butterfly photos I salivate over (what's more, you know the names of the butterflies!) so I say turn about is fair play. So HA! Glad I made you drool. And BTW, your new paint job looks good. :-)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

George…

Well, shooting through a window, the sightline is whatever it is—therefore composition was limited to what I could do via cropping. And the sun was blazing bright, with the background under the box elder a deep shadow—so to get the bird right, I had to wash out the lily a bit. But they turned out really well in spite of the set-up.

Today, it is dark and rainy. Even at 800 ISO, my handheld shutter speed is down to 1/40th of a second—pretty slow. But the light is marvelous, nice and soft, and the colors quite saturated. So I'm trying to shoot a few more things—chickadees, finches, hummingbirds—on this lily. If I do put a shot or two up in another post, look at the difference in color. It's astonishing!

My thoughts re. attracting hummingbirds are basic…provide feeders and a variety of their favorite plants. They do seem really attracted to these canna lilies—but I expect that's because they're big and showy.

I'm also sure where I live has a lot to do with the number of hummers I see daily; the river is an enticing path for so many birds and creatures. Neighbors not too far away—and several Ohio bloggers—say this is a poor year for rubythroats visiting their feeders. Yet I can honestly count a dozen or more almost any time I check. At this very moment, even with light rain coming down, I see five hummers circling and feeding on one feeder (can't see the other feeder) and two in the flowers beyond the window.

So call it serendipity or an undeserved but much appreciated blessing.

The Weaver of Grass said...

The Scots poet, George MacKay Brown, always worked with his back to the window - but my goodness what a sight he missed (he lived on a Hebridean island and the window looked out across the sea).
I would give my eye teeth to have a little exquisite humming bird right outside my window Jim. Bother the work!

MorningAJ said...

Write about what you can see from your window. The world will read it. Then you have an excuse to stare out the window to get the phrases right.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

Alas, that's what I say all too often: "Bother the work!"

I understand completely George MacKay Brown's reasoning—the need behind the solution. I also expect this reveals differences in artistic commitment and probably talent—one whose flame burns bright and hot, while the other's simply smolders, occasionally issuing a belch of smoke.

I do, however, wonder how old Wordsworth handle window views…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

MorningAJ…

I'm probably already doing enough window-staring without legitimizing and encouraging it with an excuse…though it's a good idea. Trust me, there's enough—as a friend used to phrase it—"conniving Irish" in me to invent plenty of ways to justify my shortcomings.

I do write the occasional post about the goings-on outside as witnessed through the window, though I guess it tends to be more wintertime reports about feeder birds, the Cooper hawk's latest hunt, herons in the river, etc. I kind of like the idea of a through-the-window piece, however. Last year I did a sort of photo piece…

[http://riverdaze.blogspot.com/2009/06/deck-shots.html

… where every shot was taken from the same spot on my deck. I liked the game of that, the limitation and challenge. I might just see what I can come up with through this window.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

Oh my, - the hummingbirds are luscious. - SO beautiful and you captured their intent perfectly. I love that you are distracted and it is purposeful. :-) Here too , our hummingbirds are gathering wildly and drinking a full feeder every few days. They are stunning and I love their rhythmic aerial flight dance that takes on the form of a heart. I sigh in pure joy.

Happy weekend to you. I am hobbling along.

Love to you
Gail
peace and hope.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Purposeful distraction…hummmm, I like the sound of that. Sounds so much better than idle frittering.

Here, too, the hummingbirds seem to "gathering wildly," almost frantic at times in their feeding. But they're getting ready for their journey—and in all too few weeks will be gone.

I'm glad you're feeling good enough to hobble along. I gimp and lurch some days and wonder how it's possible to hurt in so many places at once, as well as why I spent years beating up my body. Then I think about you and what you and so many others must endure, and I'm ashamed of myself for even thinking about complaining.

Take care, and have a great weekend.

Robin said...

I just discovered there is such a thing as a Hummingbird moth. A co-worker pointed one out at work and I was enchanted.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Robin…

There are, indeed…and they're really neat. We all learn stuff all the time, because nature is not only amazing, it's complicated and prolific.

Marisa@ Getting Back To Basics said...

Your photo's are simply stunning!
I have been trying to capture some shots of the humming birds at our feeders but the little buggers just won't stay still long enough for me to focus on them.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Marisa…

What I usually do when photographing hummers—and really I'm no expert—is to pre-focus on a flower, the edge of the feeder, etc. Then I wait for the hummer to come into my "sweet" spot. That's how I shot the through-the-window pix you see here. It's more a matter of patience and luck than technical ability or equipment.