Saturday, February 9, 2013

Museum Musings: A Word About My Dreams

A hummingbird nesting outside my boyfriend's
bathroom window. The moss cup is the
size of a large egg. 
I had a dream last night in which a hummingbird came an perched on my shoulder. I've been thinking about hummingbirds a lot lately. One of the things I have been most sad about in leaving the Palace of Fine Arts for Pier 15 with the Exploratorium is abandoning the amazing birdlife that proliferates in the Palace lagoon - blue herons, egrets, swans, and, yes, a wonderful hummingbird I used to see almost every morning in the bushes. There is something so fantastical about the hummingbird, this tiny ball of green iridescent fluff vibrating madly though the air, a quickness and brilliance and impossibility. My old commute took me on a winding path through an elaborately landscaped garden, past a deep green duckpond, and under the arches of a truly beautiful dome of golden stone; my new commute is a straight shot through the glassy heart of San Francisco's financial district, a grim gray walk full of busy people in expensive shoes bowed under the gaze of reflective, glossy monoliths. So you can imagine my absolute delight when I discovered, my second day navigating the sour concrete shadows, that the financial district has hummingbirds as well. There's a little parklet I pass by, a bump of green and hunched trees, and almost every morning I have been astonished to see another hummingbird buzzing and darting at the edges for all the world as if it didn't know it was surrounded by skyscrapers, those largest and grandest blandishments of human indifference to natural world. (There's also a murmuration of starlings nesting there, as I discovered on my way back: a raucous cacophony of cawing birds fighting and swirling in the trees. They are loud enough to cut through every city noise. They are wonderful.)

So I woke up this morning with the clear memory of a moment in a dream where a hummingbird, wise and minute and glittering, came to sit weightless on my shoulder under the drift of my hair; it was a guide of some kind, although I can't remember why, or to what. And the memory of this dream startled me, because it was a dream-moment of a kind I have so rarely that I can count every instance I remember on my fingers: a moment of gladness and joy.

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