by Sana Hayes

Over the summer, I happened to repeatedly hear the unique sound of a hummingbird in hover mode at a feeder just outside my kitchen window.

With a heat spell, and no air conditioning in our home, we’ve had the windows open a lot. It’s a quiet, low-pitched hum that is unmistakably for the bird that takes its name from its sound. Each time I would hear this bass buzz, I would flit to the window and try to get a glimpse of my little friend — never sure if this was one little friend or many, since I’ve yet to acquire the ability to tell one from another.

Whomever he or she is, they’ve apparently decided that my backyard and probably more specifically MY feeder is their territory. I’ve noticed that oftentimes the hum of flight is more like that of an F-18 going into battle. This little bird, no more than a couple inches in size, decidedly doesn’t want to share the magnificence of a ready and continuous source of nectar, despite the fact that it is bleached pure cane sugar water.

Now, when I hear the hum of impending conflict, there is always the accompanying whirr of another little pilot zooming by the window being chased from behind. Their antics are quite entertaining and I find myself on high alert for the flapping of wings that signal their arrival, often followed by their quick departure.

It is certainly fitting that this month I’ve been thinking about the little things — not just hummingbirds, but all the little things that make up our lives. Someone sharing their smile. A friend calling to say how much they’ve missed you. The dog exuberantly wagging its tail demonstrating great joy at our arrival.

I am realizing more than ever it is the little things that matter the most.

A friend and I phone each other every week to play a game we call “Thirty Things.” It’s not really a game per se, but we’ve deemed it that to make it seem more fun. It’s really our way of holding each other accountable to pick up and put away 30 things. We used to count, until we got to 30, and then we could be done.

But now, we chat for as long as we have time for, putting away things the entire time. What we’ve discovered, over our years of “playing” is that it is always the tiniest of things that give us the biggest challenge.

Like the penny dropped on the floor that rolled between the washer and the dryer. Or the paperclip lying on the kitchen counter when it belongs in the office. The one sock that has been hanging out in the laundry room for six or more months.

The broken reading glasses that really just need to go in the trash. The safety pin perched precariously near the bathroom sink that belongs elsewhere. The receipt that goes wherever receipts go.

You get the picture. It’s the myriad of things that belong where they are not. We take one day each week to try to get as many of them home as possible — one paperclip, bookmark, hair tie or bottle cap at a time.

So, my petite bird friend reminds me that it truly is the little things in life that matter and we must remain vigilant and attentive to the details, lest we either drown in a sea of minutia or traipse through life unaware of the violets we crush beneath our feet.

— Sana Hayes is a free spirit, as comfortable in a tiara as she is in pajamas. She writes to better encounter the radiant self in each of us. Contact her at cowgirlsana@gmail.com .