The hummingbirds who visit my yard really love the water. It’s best not to be in their way when they are coming in to the water rock.
I finally went back outside. It’s an odd sort of day, overcast with rain expected but no rain. It’s humid and breezy and there’s a dullness in the air. I poked around in the monkeyflower bushes beneath the toyon and found what was left of one of Lily’s eggs.
That’s when it all hit me. That’s when I started to cry. I took picture after picture but the darn focus wouldn’t focus and the white of the shell was too white to grasp. I just kept switching settings and taking shot after shot after shot. Because I was sorta crying and sorta sniffling, Cassie kept coming over to nuzzle me. Finally I just gave up, rocked back on my heels, and turned off the camera.
I stood up and there, hovering just beside the bush, was Lily. No chittering. No sound except for the speedy flapping of her wings. I watched her for 10, maybe 20 seconds or so, and then she flew off, out of the yard.
I’d like to think she stopped to say goodbye.
As is my routine, first thing this morning I went out to check Lily’s nest to see if the eggs had started to hatch. Alas, this is what I found, an empty nest. It could have been crows, though the spindly bush didn’t look like it sustained any damage as I might have expected if such a large bird had landed in it. It might have been rats as I know they travel the fence just a few feet from where the nest is located. We’ll never know.
Lily has been my obsession for several weeks and I’m the better for it. She has taught me to observe, helped me learn to be still, and greatly improved my photography skills. I hope I’ll get another chance to observe something this special, in my own backyard.
Ironically enough, today I am the guest poet over on GottaBook with Greg’s annual gathering of 30 Poets for 30 Days. A poem about Lily is posted there.
Here is a gallery of photos of Lily’s nest over a few weeks. It was interesting to me how she kept adding to the top, like a playpen, and around the outside. At first the one leaf was just barely attached to the nest and by the end it was woven in tightly and covered with lichen.
I went outside today to just do some basic garden shots and experiments with ISO settings. I ended up with a serendipitous moment that yielded a ton of photos of Lily. She landed right in front of my face in the tree over the fence. Even before I’ve downloaded the photos I knew I had a killer shot in there.
Later in the day I looked in Lily’s nest when she took off. I got excited for a minute when I thought I saw a crack in one of the eggs but it was just a hair. She’s added some new feathers to the nest today.
Photos from day 22 with Lily.
We are in countdown mode, waiting for Lily’s eggs to hatch. By my reckoning, it could be any day now. The first egg appeared on 4/8 and the second on 4/11.
People have asked me, why is she named Lily? She is named after my grandmother. My grandmother used to be able to whistle like the songbirds in the yard so I just know she would have been fascinated by Lily. Lily is a precious name only bestowed upon those who will be able to live up to it and bring beauty to the world.
Photos from day 21 with Lily.
Her tiny body is exquisite. I love to watch her stretch out a wing, like a ballerina getting ready to dance.
People ask me what her nest of made of. The nest is built with so many wonderful little things. She’s got bits of moss, some tiny white down feathers that I wonder if she plucked from herself. Pieces of grass and dandelion seeds. There are a lot of spiderwebs, more were visible earlier, before she put more layers on. There are dog hairs and what looks like long gray hairs, maybe from someone putting out hair from a hair brush.
Photos from day 20 with Lily.
It is so easy, too easy, to give human thoughts and emotions to a beautiful creature. But still, I cannot help myself. I imagine her enjoying her last quiet days before those eggs hatch.
Photos from day 19 with Lily.
I never get tired of trying to get a good photo of her. She has become my meditation.
Photos from day 18 with Lily.