Friday, March 16, 2012

Cats and Hummingbirds

“Keep your cat away from my yard,” our neighbor, Harold, bellowed at me from his driveway.  For an 86 year-old he had a booming voice. 

“Sure,” I said flipping though the mail.  “Wait a minute--”  I paused.  Jackson was an indoor cat who came to our house in a carrier and was so scared he’d spent the first two weeks hiding under the bed.  “How did you know we got a cat?”

“I run the Neighborhood Watch,” Harold said puffing out his chest.  “I know everything.”

I thought this information about neighbors looking out for neighbors was supposed to make me feel safer but instead I just felt… exposed, violated and in the market for even thicker curtains.

“Harold, you keep an eye on… whatever you look at and I’ll keep an eye on Jackson.”

“In that case,” he said straightening his baseball cap.  “Follow me.  Use the side gate.”  I’d never been through Harold’s side gate not to mention his backyard, which is where he led me.  In the yard grew soft blades of grass, ropes of ivy and along the west wall, a row of cypress trees.

“What do you think of those guys?” he said pointing to an exposed branch, which held a miniature nest with two baby hummingbirds snuggled inside.  The nest was the size of my woman’s fist and the birds just bigger than my thumbs.  With their striped brown and white plumage they would have been perfectly camouflaged if their nest had not been so exposed.

“Wow,” I whispered.
  
One bird opened his beak, no doubt hungry.  They were both so tiny and precious.  I understood Harold’s concern.  One swipe from a cat and they would be history.  However, if we left them alone maybe they’d grow up and in three weeks be buzzing through our garden pollinating flowers.  

On second thought, maybe it wasn't a bad thing having a nosy neighbor and a scared cat.  Together they would give nature’s newest kids on the block a fighting chance.