improbabilities

I was going to call them “miracles,” but that isn’t quite right. A miracle is certain. My backyard’s ecosystem is less likely.

A hawk just soared over the neighborhood, out of the literal blue, as if to emphasize the point. Meanwhile, a hummingbird rests uncharacteristically still on our phone line under the big maple tree, occasionally flitting about with blurred wings. It’s a nervous energy, away from the perch and back again, as if a windup spring has to be released every few seconds. There’s a companion that emerges from higher up, greeting the partner in a swirl of darting to and fro, up and down.

A squirrel sprints along the power line above our back fence, an unrecommendable gallop, headlong and elevated 30 feet above the ground. There’s a leap, and a few seconds later it’s twice as high, twice as unlikely, gnawing at a pinecone in our tree. It will spend the day traversing wire and branch, harvesting apples and cones.

The neighbor cat, black and white and scrawny and wary, slinks through the side fence. Looking back, he spots our dog, and as their eyes meet the cat reproportions itself to slide under the shed and out of sight. The dog is lying down, her head up and attentive to any new sign of invasive feline.

The bees in the hive, tens of thousands of them, catch the new light as they emerge and return. Their flight paths are calculated and direct, south and east, over the garden and then fanning out to places I only imagine. The front yard’s sage and lavender, if they make a win u-turn around the neighborhood? Or, I like to imagine that they find stream-side flowers in the mountains, or maybe a neighbor’s clover.

Besides the promise of honey, there’s tomatoes ripening on the vine. Peaches are still green, noncommittal but suggestive. Maybe by the end of the month, they seem to tell me as each day their shade is a little more yellow, a little more distinguishable from the canopy of leaves. There’s some Oregon grape that I’m just noticing in the bramble I don’t know what to do with. It’s out of place, I think, in the mountains of Utah, but I’ve come to realize that this is a good home. Maybe I should pull out the other oddities, unnamable invasive plants that are hedging it in.

The hummingbird had left but now is back, first on a narrow branch and then to the wire again. It flits out, looking for something, and a few seconds later the friend returns and together they fly and squeak. And now she’s back again, her feathers of iridescent green alight in the sun’s rays, a color as improbable as the bird itself.

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