Monday, September 1, 2008

The Hummingbirds



The seedpods on the Purple Orchid tree have roasted in the summer sun, split, curled back like ribbon, and fallen onto the asphalt for the cars on Beverly Boulevard to crunch. Philip says a perfect crunch consists of four crackles, which is only possible with a seedpod twisted twice at both ends. Philip derives great satisfaction through crunching these pods: something new I learned about him a year ago when we moved into our new home. The seedpods sprinkled Beverly at that time too; the crape myrtles were blooming; the Whittier hills were brown with dry mustard. Not long after we moved into our house we found a tiny nest in the bushes outside our front door. It looked like a hummingbird’s nest, but I had no way of knowing.

Now, a year latter, I know. Another hummingbird or perhaps the same one has built her nest again in the swaying branches of our crape myrtle. Over our dinners Phil and I have watched her tend her young in between her snacks from the Agapanthus just below her nest. Now two needle-like beaks poke out of the top of her nest, and I imagine soon the unused nest will fall into the bushes again.

Rich and ripe summer has come to uptown Whittier, but this time, I welcome it with familiarity. I have seen these sights, smelt these smells before. The pregnant branches of our neighbor’s lime tree have spanned David Coxes backyard and dipped into our yard again. It’s heavy with limes that are waiting for the autumn sun to ripen them. Last year, to keep busy during a family progressive dinner, my grandpa, Papi, gathered all the fallen limes into a neat pyramid-like pile on the edge of our yard.

The Queen Palm in our pink-housed-neighbor’s yard has shot new fronds into the air like the Trans-America Building in San Francisco. The beige seed capsules at the palm’s side have peeled back, revealing the golden lace of pollen, which hangs out of the capsule like tinsel. The bees and Japanese beetles congregate around the golden seeds as if it were a buffet for kings.

The heat has shrunken our house doors back into their normal sizes so we can close them without lifting or slamming. Come October our neighbors will start littering their front yards with fake spider webs and gaudy Halloween decorations. I have seen them before.

The earth has spun a full circle and what has been gained? Who am I now? What has become of all the time? A year ago I roomed with my cat, visited the garden for my daily servings of vegetables, didn’t know the difference between a frying pan and a sauté pan, and was determined not to be the cutesy 50’s wife who sewed curtains and made chocolate chip cookies.

I know I’ve failed in keeping up appearances. When Mike Hamilton and his friend came by the house to drop off some spare dishes, his friend informed Mike that he felt like he’d just stepped out of an old fashion house. I suppose I don’t care so much about appearances. What I thought I ought to be is irrelevant. And what I’ve become is far more interesting. Who knows what we’ll be in the future?