Hummingbird Shadows

In our ongoing saga of Selling Our House Without Buying a New One, we recently moved in with my parents. If you know my parents, you know that this is something they agreed to in a heartbeat, because they love us and want us to be in a safe place that doesn’t cost a king’s ransom every month. Many people have said, ” I bet they just LOVE having you and Sadie there.” And believe me, they do. But I feel the need to emphasize that while we do bring a very sweet baby to this new living arrangement, we have also brought a rather massive amount of stuff. When my parents bought and remodeled their beautiful home five years ago, I doubt “baby proofing” was on their minds. Still, they have been more than accommodating to our many needs and restrictions when it comes to keeping Sadie from toppling headfirst down the stairs or guzzling Windex, which our active, curious child would most certainly do if ever given the opportunity. And sometimes, she even cries. She’s generally a VERY happy kiddo, but happy does not equate to quiet for my girl, so she spends her mornings and evenings around here speed-crawling around, babbling and “singing” at full volume.

So all that to say, my parents are making a huge sacrifice for us to be here, and we are so appreciative. And there are many perks to living here, to be certain. Getting to hang out with my parents, built-in Grandma assistance, a shorter commute for Ryan, etc. But the perk I least expected but am enjoying so very much?

The Hummingbirds.

I’ve always found those little guys fascinating, the way they arrive in a flurry of activity, their wings a blur, yet they move with so much grace. They are beautiful in their movement, but if you can catch them sitting still, they are stunning. And unlike the ever-pervasive crows that seem to have usurped the Goldfinch as the state bird of Washington, they are generally a rare sight to behold.

Except at my parents’ house. My mom is a natural caretaker of all things…people, plants, and apparently birds. I did not inherit this from her. I have never kept a plant living for more than a few days, and keeping myself and my daughter alive and well takes enough energy for me. But my mom has a thriving garden and well-stocked bird feeders, including two for the hummingbirds. They hang outside of her west-facing kitchen window, and to my absolute delight I see several of those tiny creatures every day. There’s literally one perched outside as I type this sentence.

On one of our first evenings here while my folks were out of town, Ryan and I had put Sadie to bed and were cleaning up after dinner. The sun was close to setting and blinding us, so we pulled down the screens over the kitchen windows. A few minutes later, a tiny shadow appeared on the screen, with a pointed beak and fluttering wings, hovering outside. A hummingbird shadow. To see something already so delicate and precious reproduced on that screen was, I don’t know–moving. Really, how many people get to see a hummingbird’s shadow? I’ve seen them every day since then. And last night I caught myself glimpsing it and turning away, thinking that I’d seen it before and would see it again.

Huh. We do that, don’t we? So many aspects of our lives–our things, our homes, our spouses, even our children, start out so novel, so new and spectacular to us. And then time goes by and life gets busy and the spectacular becomes commonplace. But life is short and so many of those things and people go away, and you’d give anything just to see even their shadow one more time.

It’s been a difficult season, leaving our home and waiting for a new one. Everything in me wants to fast-forward to a time that feels more settled and comfortable, but those itty-bitty birds are reminding me that this season is precious too. Someday I won’t live here anymore; My baby will be a toddler and myself, my husband, and those we love will keep getting older, God willing. I’ll miss these days, and the hummingbirds too. Because we all know there won’t be a feeder at my house.

As I began this post, it occurred to me that clearly, hummingbirds must be my spirit animal. Well, them and Amy Schumer. So I did a quick (<5 minute) search on the internet regarding their significance. One of the rather crunchy websites I visited told me the following:

“The hummingbird generally symbolizes joy and playfulness, as well as adaptability. Additional symbolic meanings are:

  • Lightness of being, enjoyment of life
  • Being more present
  • Independence
  • Bringing playfulness and joy in your life
  • Lifting up negativity
  • Swiftness, ability to respond quickly
  • Resiliency, being able to travel great distances tirelessly” 

And another:

“Because they need so much nectar, this could be a sign for you to always watch your sugar levels and make sure you’re eating a balanced diet.”

( I was almost convinced with the first list, but the nectar tidbit made it abundantly clear. Thanks, and some other page that was probably some kid’s 8th grade science project!)

Obviously I’m not well-versed in spirit animals. I’m honestly not even sure that’s a thing. But I am grateful that God is using one of His tiniest creatures to teach me one my biggest lessons.

Hummingbird Shadow


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