Not a week ago a whole little battalion of hummingbirds, okay, maybe four, were duking it out over the three nectar feeders I have hung around the back yard. I could hear their high-pitched chirping all around. One, a young male had taken charge of the window feeder here at the sun-room. Learning to manage his territory as the family jewels blossomed around his throat. For a while mom had the saucer feeder and dad had the jar hanging from the corner of the garage. Then dad was gone. They say the males leave first. Then the females. Then the young of the year go last. Head south on their unimaginable journey to warmer climes where flowers are still blooming and the light is long. They go alone. Hummingbirds are not flocking birds. Fiercely territorial and solitary. Today there seems to be only one bird left whirring from one feeder to another, pausing to look at her reflection in the window. I like to think she’s peering in at me but more likely she’s checking out the hummer she sees there. A young female. Wondering where everybody went. So fall begins. The air is chill this morning. She’ll be leaving soon. I always feel a tremendous tug at my heart as I suddenly realize they’re gone, flown out over the vast currents of air, with miles and months before their spring return. I always wonder if they’ll survive, (or if I will) if they’ll come back here. They do. Sometimes they show up looking for the window feeder before I’ve put it out. They remember, they follow that map written on their blood. I pray for them. It’s a wild prayer, broadcast like seeds tossed over the plains of sky.