Thinking of Pollinators on Earth Day Eve

For this Poetry Friday on Earth Day Eve, I’m sharing a poem that I started in February—usually early spring in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live. But this year was particularly rainy and cold. February felt more like winter, as did most of March and some of April.

I wrote the first draft of this poem at my desk based on a recent memory, but made some revisions both looking out my window and stepping outside. I’m trying to do more writing “at the scene of the poem,” it always leads me to details I appreciate.

Not-So-Small Worry 

I remember a time on this planet
when if I saw a tiny bird shivering
on a nest, in the piercing cold,
misty raindrops tapping its puffed feathers,
I’d console myself that this is the way of things,
that surely if a bird made a nest in late winter
it could follow its instincts and survive.
And when I saw that little being
dart off its nest and hover nearby
exposing small smooth eggs, white as spotlights,
I’d trust that this is how a tiny bird stays warm,
ready to swoop back in a moment of danger.

But that is not my planet anymore.
I do not trust the weather.
I do not trust that the signs
in the weeks leading up to this day
would tell a hummingbird what it needs
to know, to support survival.

© Karin Fisher-Golton, 2023

The epilogue to this story is that the hummingbird nest did survive the storm. In the days after, I saw two hummingbirds (both a female and a male) take turns sitting on the nest, the sunshine reflecting off their feathers, their tails perked into the air. But one day, when neither was on the nest, I saw that the eggs had disappeared—I suspect victim to predators rather than weather—and eventually the birds did too. I hope they made a nest somewhere else soon after.

For this Earth Day, consider supporting the pollinators (hummingbirds, bees, and more) by planting native plants. They make the perfect habitat for local pollinators to survive and thrive. We need those pollinators to help propagate more plants, which help keep the air, and thus all of us living on Earth, healthy.

Below are photos of how some of the native plants in my garden look on these days coming up to Earth Day.

honeybee on one of many puffy purple flowers
ceanothus (“frosty blue”) with honeybee
red flowers on long stems with long yellow stamens hanging down
white oblong flowers nestled among leaves sprinkled with small dried purple flowers
pitcher sage (with fallen ceanothus blossoms)
one small white blossom with a yellow center among dark, deeply veined leaves
wild strawberries
a few bright red blossoms among small green leaves
roseberry sage
a black and pale yellow bumble bee, with bright gold pollen on its leg rests on one of many puffy purple flowers
ceanothus (“frosty blue”) with bumble bee

Visit Karen Edmisten’s blog, where she is contemplating National Poetry Month, for more poetry links for this Poetry Friday: Thank you, Karen!

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28 Responses to Thinking of Pollinators on Earth Day Eve

  1. Yael Golton says:

    I enjoyed your poem Love Yael


  2. Susan T. says:

    This is a good reminder to get my pollinator garden going.

    So sweet, those tiny hummingbird eggs.

  3. Denise Krebs says:

    Karen, I need to consider what pollinator flowers I can add to our desert landscape here. The wildflowers are wonderful this year, but maybe there is something I can add. Those hummingbirds! I’m sorry they lost their eggs.

    I love the idea of “writing at the scene of the poem.” I recently wrote about a jack rabbit hopping down the trail. Then when I was out for a walk I saw it really was “dart-leap-hopping down the trail.”

    • I’m sure the desert pollinators are particularly in need of some good flowers delights. Look for native plants descriptions that say “good for bees and butterflies.”

      Thank you for that fun image of the jack rabbit’s movement!

  4. maryleehahn says:

    We have a half-dozen black swallowtail chrysalises that have overwintered in our garage. We are hoping to keep them there (temps keep falling again after periods of heat, so they are in the cool dark) until there are enough blooms out to feed them!

  5. Prince William County Schools says:

    I’m so glad the hummingbird survived. I’ll be planting with pollinators in mind this spring!

  6. jama says:

    Love this post. Your poem is beautiful and powerful. What wonderful plants you have in your garden. Happy Earth Day!! You are an inspiration. 🙂

  7. Oh, the wondrous bees! I hope more hummingbirds come to visit your garden, too.

    • Thank you! We do get lots of hummingbird visitors. But I’d never seen a nest before. I was very lucky to spot one not far from my window. Now I know what to look for next year. And, yes, yay for the bees!

  8. lindabaie says:

    I haven’t seen a bee here yet, but there are only a few blooms so far. I have Columbines & an assortment of other plants that bring the bees. Your poem is powerful yet I know that things unhelpful to both the planet & people started long ago, when people did trust & even then, shouldn’t have. Thanks for standing up for our earth.

    • Thanks, Linda! It’s true that the lack of trust comes from knowing more. I like the reminder that columbines grow in so many places. Their flowers always wow me with their interesting shape.

  9. Touching poem, Karin – thank you. And thanks for the beautiful pictures from your garden. How amazing are these wee creatures, surviving/adapting as best they can….

  10. Tabatha says:

    We can’t assume the critters know what is going on with the weather, can we? Thanks for the pollinators reminder! Last year I planted some foam flowers and they are blooming this year. Maybe I should add some more. “Roseberry sage” sounds delightful.

  11. Karen Edmisten says:

    It’s so hard to know we can’t have the trust we used to have. Such a rollercoaster ride of worry and hope. Support the pollinators!

  12. The birds and the bees – this post has it all. (rated G, of course, for great reminders 🙂 )

  13. Love the cheerleading for pollinators, Karin! I worry all the time for the dove, the wren, the woodpecker, the thrasher, and yes, the hummingbird — all with nests in or near my yard. So glad your hummingbirds lived.

  14. haitiruth says:

    Oh, Karin, I love your poem, and share your affection and anxiety for our beautiful, troubled world! Ruth,

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