Saturday, July 23, 2005


RD's photo in her high school literary journal 1969

Dave over at Via Negativa wrote a while back that he felt nostalgia for the present. Such a notion intrigued me. I have often felt such a nostalgia.
The hummingbirds have stopped coming to our feeder. I continue to change the sugary sweet water that I fill the feeder with, but it's been over a week, and they have not returned. We are still in thick of summer. Most of the blogs I read are steeped in the sweat of their stifling humid summer days. But the hummingbirds here in the Pacific Northwest seem to be responding to a different cue-- an early winter? has the light changed with enough significance to send them on their migratory voyage?
We took a walk along a new trail the other day and ran into a couple older than we are. They were making their way along a cliff above Port Townsend Bay. They asked, "Have you seen any good birds today?" We said, "Oh yes, we saw a Belted Kingfisher diving for fish over on the other side of the park." They said, "Our neighbor told us that the hummingbirds have stopped coming to her feeder." We looked out over the blue water. The quiet waves of time and light were moving. It is now summer, and summer is now over. The hummingbirds have gone.
When I look at this picture of me when I was 17 years old in the high school literary journal, I remember even then feeling a nostalgia for the present. The evanescent moment. It was 1969, the summer before my high school senior year. The poems in our literary journal were all about Vietnam. This one by a classmate was one of my favorites:
In a sunken rice paddy,
You are what you believe,
and your country dies
as you bleed.
The anguish of an ill-conceived war was palpable everywhere. A sub-culture was born that rent the country and people poured into the streets. Passion was the force and fruit of everything-- this anti-war movement, the music, the marches, the chants, and the sensual sharing of our flesh in hope for the taste of something nectar sweet and infinite.
It was all as fleeting as this hummingbird summer-- leaving feeders hanging in the lazy sun and swaying almost imperceptibly to the hint of fall breezes.

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