Thursday, June 12, 2014

the 13th story hummingbird

So there I was sitting on the roof. Terwilliger Plaza has a great space for residents on the roof, up on top of the 12th floor apartments. There's Tomato Alley off to the right as you get off the elevator (my tomato plant is growing leaves like crazy, but, as yet, no tomatoes). And off to the right is the door to the space on the roof with plants and flowers and places to sit and look out over Portland, admiring Mt. Hood to the east and Mt. St. Helens (what's left of it after the 1980 eruption) to the north, the Willamette River flowing past beneath the half dozen bridges that join the two halves of Portland, the sky tram swinging up and down to get people to and from Oregon Health Sciences University, aka Pill Hill, just south of where we are.

If you are so inclined, you can go look over the edge down to the park and the lilac gardens. My knees tend to wobble when I even think of that, so I usually don't. There's a great flat disk that hangs over the edge with arrows pointing to six or seven of the mountain peaks visible in clear weather, but once I get that close to the side, my eyes kind of go out of focus with terror. There's a barrier, of course, but it's waist-high, not nearly high enough to disguise the fact that I'm over 100 feet from the ground in a radically downward direction.

But the roof is a great place to sit and just Be, particularly now when it's usually sunny and cool and gently breezy, and you can gaze out over treetops and buildings and foothills and feel spacious.

So there I was, sitting on the roof, feeling spacious, when I happened to look over at the rooftop flowers. And there was a hummingbird dipping his beak into some pink trumpet-shaped blossoms, cool as can be. He did a leisurely tour of the plants that had that particular kind of flower, then zoomed off.

How the heck did he find those flowers? You know there's not a lot of forage for hummingbirds at the 13th floor level of the stratosphere. Sure, the West Hills rise up behind us, but you'd think, on a breezy day, any scent that might have attracted him would be entirely dispersed within feet of the flowers. Yet there he was, brazenly suspending his tiny self 13 stories up, browsing potted plants as if they had been put out specifically for his nourishment. I should ask the gardener, maybe they were.

He certainly was a high point, absolutely no pun intended, of my day. I wonder whether hummingbirds have a regular route, revisiting flowers that hospitably regenerate nectar for them on a daily or weekly basis. I think I'll go sit on the roof some more.


  1. A roof top garden and view. Wonderful!

  2. Apparently hummingbirds do fly that high, on the lookout for places like yours:

    That rooftop sounds great!