The hummingbirds

…when you are convinced that all the exits are blocked, either you take to believing in miracles or you stand still like the hummingbird. The miracle is that the honey is always there, right under your nose, only you were too busy searching elsewhere to realize it. The worst is not death but being blind, blind to the fact that everything about life is in the nature of the miraculous.

-Henry Miller

One recently returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic where she went snorkeling. The other one is headed to Europe in a week. Like most young professionals, they think nothing of flying off across the ocean like hummingbirds whenever they get the chance. As their worrywart of a mother, I’d be lying if I said that all this flitting about doesn’t drive me just a little nuts. What if the plane crashes? What if they get sick and have to go to a hospital where nobody speaks English? What if they lose their passports and can never get back into the U.S.? These are the questions that torment me when one of them tells me they are going somewhere far, far, away. They sigh and tell me they’ll be fine. FINE? Really? That’s all you’ve got? Fine? You got lost in a shopping mall when you were four, I think. How are you ever going to find your way around Amsterdam?

Uffda. My poor grown kids. I’m kind of lot to deal with, obviously. Which is probably why they mostly ignore my completely irrational fears and throw all caution to the wind and go places and are just fine.

I try to put on a brave face. I do. At my core, I’m glad they love to travel because it is the best way to gain perspective. Without travel, it’s too easy to get comfortable, to only see to the edge of a property line. I’m glad they want to experience this big, colorful, messy planet full of different languages and cultures and ways of being. People are pretty much the same on the inside no matter where you go. Maybe that’s the best lesson travel teaches.

I blame their insatiable wanderlust on the fact that when they were young, about the only place we went on vacation was to the cabin. This wasn’t nearly as exciting as taking trips to Disney World as far as they were concerned. The place on the river gave them roots when all they wanted to do was flap their wings. But soon, summer will arrive and so will my two wild hummingbirds. We will see them after their father and I have chased all the mice out of the place and raked the yard. They’ll come loaded down with beer they will not take back with them and food and friends. For a little while, they will swim and laugh and grill a whole lot of burgers.

They’ll fall asleep in the house by the river their great-great grandfather built and sit at their great-grandmother’s table. Generations of gray ghosts who valued roots over wings will listen and be quite glad to see them. My big hummingbirds will tell tales of the places they’ve visited and the things they’ve seen.

Wonderful, I will say. How exciting to see that, I’ll marvel. See the world, I’ll think. While you are young and free. See it all. And then, when your wings get tired, come back to the small cabin rooted firmly to old ground and land for just a little while, please.

The ghosts and I will be right here waiting.

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