The Cove Journal
by JoDee Samuelson
The news is full of big things going on in the world. Elections, hurricanes, tornadoes. Flooding in Quebec. Fissures in Antarctic ice shelves.
All these big things began with tiny events. Even that iceberg floating down from Greenland past Newfoundland must have been the result of a “final straw”: one last ice crystal melted and boom! the glacier started to crack.
Perhaps the fluttering wings of the ruby-throated hummingbird at our feeder started the hurricane in the Atlantic, for its wings beat more than fifty times a second. Surely that’s enough to create a small storm somewhere. Maybe individual actions do have consequences.
Our woodman, who takes great interest in small things, tells of seeing a hummingbird pluck two fluffy dandelion seeds and fly off with them in her beak to use in lining her walnut-sized nest. A hummingbird nest is constructed from such things as moss, lichens, feathers, hair, cotton threads, leaf fuzz—and dandelion fluff—all bound together with super strong elastic spider silk that allows the nest to stretch as the hatchlings grow. (By the way, hummingbird nests are built entirely by the female, and Dad doesn’t help raise the chicks either.)
Hummingbird legs are so short that scientists classify them as Apodiformes, which means “without feet.” I don’t know how hummingbirds feel about this. They get back at us by having great vision and being able to see into the ultraviolet spectrum, which is something that we humans can’t do.
Here in the Cove we focus on small events like hummingbirds and dandelion seeds, apple blossoms and fresh lettuce, and even some insects—honeybees, for example. (We’re not so crazy about ants and mosquitoes. The good news is that bats have been sighted again and I do hope that some will move into our yard soon.)
This month we’ll be serving fresh strawberries at our Strawberry Social. Each berry started out as a five-petaled white flower that was visited by some small insect, and after a few weeks of glorious sunlight and gentle rain, it was totally transformed. For our social we’ll mash thousands of plump red strawberries, add a little sugar, and serve this delicious mixture in pretty bowls with biscuits underneath and ice cream on top. And the ice cream started out as a drop of milk, and so on.
Dreamily meandering out in the lush green meadows, the cows pluck a flower here, nibble a blade of grass there, and turn it into milk for our ice cream. The hummingbird returns to the feeder for another drop of nectar. Down at the shore the snails make their way across the tidal flats one sand particle at a time. From a distance, life in the Cove looks small and simple. Up close it’s complicated and intricate—it’s plenty big!
So we keep an eye on the news, but mostly we concentrate on the small manageable wonderful things happening right under our noses.