Monday, February 1, 2010


A portrait of my grandmother- with a hummingbird and a fox.

For whatever reason, I tend to assign animals to my family. Maybe they assign them to themselves, I don't know- my father's nickname growing up was rabbit. (I swear this has nothing to do with my previous rabbit post) His sister always called him that, into adulthood- and he holds on to that nickname to remember her, I believe. The nickname was because he raised rabbits- not because he has big ears or teeth. He doesn't hop.

My aunt, my fathers sister, had a lot of favorite animals, she had dogs, horses, she briefly loved rhinos- but the one that lingered, her animal, was a fox. When she died, the morning of her funeral, I remember looking out the kitchen window at my grandparents house, and seeing a little grey fox just sitting there, for the longest time. My grandmother told me later she saw that fox every day since my aunt died, and she always thought it was her.

My grandmother loved hummingbirds. She would to paint them in water color- and would often call me with questions- the kind of questions you can't answer about someone else's painting but I'd try. She gave me some of her paintings the last time I saw her, including her painting of a hummingbird. After she died, I saw hummingbirds everywhere. There is a hummingbird, or a few, who visit my garden every year- they hover and look me in the eye until it makes me a little uncomfortable- but I always think of my grandmother and wonder.

For the last few weeks at bath time, S has been splashing around in the water saying "I'm a hummingbird!"
The first time she said it I was shocked. "You're a what?"
" A hummingbird.", she said. Miffed that I interrupted her hummingbird splashing.
"A hummingbird."
I have been wracking my brain trying to think of hummingbird books, or a hummingbird that was on a show. Trying to figure out where she's learned about hummingbirds. I asked her teachers if they had mentioned a hummingbird in class. No. I have no idea where this hummingbird thing came from. I'm sure there is a logical explanation- but it does make me smile and tear up a little. My grandmother never met the girls, and I do like the idea of her watching them splash around at bath time like hummingbirds.

1 comment:

Katydid said...


Oh, and I'm glad to know where "Rabbit" came from -- I always thought it was some weird fraternity thing and it bugged me.