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A Pollinating Sky

The hummingbirds arrived early this year, misled by harsh drought conditions into believing that official summer was already here.

The wildfires came, too, and the hummingbirds vanished as fast as they had first appeared.

It makes sense, of course; the smoke is hard on our human lungs, large as they are. How much more difficult must it be for such a tiny being to breathe when the air is clogged with gray particulate haze?

Over the last couple of weeks, as most of the fires have brought largely to heel and most of the smoke has long since drifted eastward, the hummingbirds have returned, arriving in ones and twos to perch atop the feeders, wings vibrating joyously as they avail themselves of the sweet red nectar. They are always welcome here, these fragile fierce creatures who pollinate our world even as they serve as messengers of the spirits.

And now, they are mostly gone again.

On Sunday afternoon, a new fire sparked to life some thirty miles south of here. It started in a canyon, harsh back country largely inaccessible to all but the most determined, those willing to go in on foot. The cause is still classified as unknown, containment at zero — but on Sunday, it has confined itself to seventy-five acres, growing only to eighty-five by Monday, according to official reports.

Late yesterday afternoon, as I stood outside Wings’s studio looking southward, I watched it explode in real time before my eyes.

No, the fire itself is not visible to us; there’s a ridgeline in the way (the same ridgeline, ironically, that burned so badly in the fire of 2003 that Wings witnessed from the Pueblo village plaza). I stood facing south, staring at an impossibly hot clear blue sky with a few white puffs to the east and one blocky transparent veil of white cloud directly ahead.

Or so I thought. Suddenly, a tiny gray crescent, no larger than a ladybug’s shell, inched over the ridgeline. The “veil” fell into place, and I turned to Wings and said, “We have a fire.” In the moment it took for him to come out of the studio (and me to focus my camera), that tiny gray disc had transformed into an unmistakable and fast-growing plume, one that over the next hour would grow to look like the mushroom cloud created by the drop of a hydrogen bomb.

By last night, the fire had grown to more than 500 acres, still with zero percent containment. And on this morning, the southern sky is a wall of pale gray haze.

In these conditions of record-breaking drought, we need rain, first and foremost, although there is none in sight. And after that, we shall need a return of the hummingbirds and their like: the pollinators, those able to renew our fast-browning world and turn it lush and green again.

At the moment, we also need a little magic of the sort to clear the air and clean the atmosphere: spirits whose task is pollinating sky.

These are the spirits who inspired today’s featured work, It’s one of Wings’s newest pieces, completed only last week. From its description in the Pins Gallery here on the site:

Pollinating Sky Pin

Hummingbirds are tiny messengers of the spirits, tasked with spreading nectar upon the winds, pollinating sky in the summer light. Wings summons one of these small emissaries into being with his newest pin, one that assumes Hummingbird’s form and shape. Cut freehand from sterling silver, caught in hovering flight, her wings are scalloped with sunrise sumbols, her tailfeathers articulated by way of arrowhead points. Seen in profile, her eye is a tiny hoop, wings separated and body and yoke defined by hand-chiseled lines. Additional hand-stamped symbols of ethereal radiance accent throat, wings, and body. Where neck meets wings, she carries a single piece of sky, an impossibly clear, electric blue turquoise cabochon set into a saw-toothed bezel. Pin is 1.5″ high by 2.25″ across at the widest point; cabochon is 3/16″ across.

Sterling silver; blue Kingman turquoise
$625 + shipping, handling, and insurance

For this day, at least, I expect our skies to be gray, our air to be harsh, our breathing ragged. I also expect to see no small hovering spirits at the feeders; the air will be too toxic for their tiny lungs.

For now, we pray: for rain, yes, but even moreso, for the crews to get a handle on the blaze from the air, curtailing it, confining it, tamping it down and putting it out. We pray, unlikely as it seems, for later winds to blow the haze and smog out entirely.

And we pray for the return of the hummingbirds and what messages they may bring as, along with their task of pollinating earth, they bring clear air and a return of the blue, and make way for the rains that create a pollinating sky.

~ Aji







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