I have a hummingbird feeder outside my home office window. It’s very busy during the spring and summer. It slows down a lot the winter. There’s a small population of hummingbirds who spend their winters with us.

It rarely gets below freezing here. So the hummingbirds are generally able to keep warm. It snowed Sunday night and into the morning on Monday. One hummingbird hen has set up camp at the feeder. She divides her time between the perch where the nectar is and the roof of the feeder. Several years ago we bought a feeder that has a small lightbulb in the bottom. We got it because during one of our rare cold snaps, the nectar actually froze. One morning there was a crowd of six or seven hummingbirds picking away at the frozen nectar. It was heartbreaking.

After a Google search, we found the heated feeders. I’m pretty sure the little hen is cold. She’s getting some warmth from the heater in the feeder. At least I hope she is. Last night was cold too. I hope she manages to stay warm. Mrs. Lion and I have been trying to figure out how we can supply a warm spot for these tiny birds. It’s probably a waste of time to try. The ones who stay here are hardy enough to handle short bursts of icy weather. The temperatures will be back up to 50 in the next day or so. Meanwhile, I’m glad we can supply some warmth to these little birds.

I didn’t start out to write about our hummingbird. It’s just that there is something profound about the beauty of compassion and the indifference of nature. Even at the top of the food chain, I realize that it would take very little to make it impossible for me to go on. There’s something very humbling about losing the ability to do things I always took for granted.

At this point I can’t even button my own shirt. I’ve lost too much sense of touch to feel the button and its position. Mrs. Lion kindly got me an assistance device that lets me handle buttons. This loss of sensation in my hands is probably going to disappear after the surgery. It’s not that I expect anyone to feel sorry for me. I don’t. It’s just mind blowing for me to see how little it takes to remove my independence.

I couldn’t even write this post without some serious technological help. My fingers are clumsy on the keyboard. Before I lost sensation in my fingers, I typed it 60 words per minute. Now, I am very slow because I make constant mistakes as my fingers hit the wrong keys. I’m grateful that I have the knowledge and the means to work around some of these issues.

I crave the ordinary. When Mrs. Lion treats me the same way she did before these issues arose, I feel like my old self. It’s true that this combination of disabilities saps a lot of my energy. But it doesn’t diminish my desire to go on as usual.

Of course, we can’t quite get to that. Mrs. Lion has to put in substantially more effort around the house to make up for my lack of ability to do things I used to handle. I still cook. But I can’t do all the cleaning I used to do. and for the foreseeable future my ability to lift anything over 10 pounds has been eliminated.

Today, I’m heading into the city to meet with pain specialists. I used to be one; I was quite famous for my creative ability to inflict pain. The specialist I’m seeing later today has the opposite job. He or she is going to work with me on how to minimize the pain of my surgery and recovery. I suggested putting me to sleep and waking me up when everything healed. Mrs. Lion shook her head and smiled. Anyway, there are actually doctors who specialize in pain management. I’m sure glad we have health insurance.

I consider myself very lucky that I’m having problems at a time when correcting them is routine. Not many years ago, I’d have been out of luck. Same is true for that little hummingbird. She lives in a time when heated feeders are available. It’s sheer chance that we happen to live at a time when we can overcome what might’ve killed us not too long ago.

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