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Dirt: the Movie features an exceptional woman ( one of many) who became an environmental advocate in her native lands. Wangari Maathi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her many efforts to improve the conditions in her country, Kenya. In 1977, she began the Green Belt Movement, which helped women plant trees to provide wood for cooking, fodder for livestock, material for fencing, protect watersheds and stabilize the soil improving agriculture. She has helped and encouraged the planting of millions of trees.

She tells the story of a Hummingbird in the movie, inspiring and rich with the flavor of Africa that goes something like this:

A fire broke out in the forest, raging and burning.  The animals rushed to the river’s edge and watched as their forest burned, not feeling they could do anything about this devastation. A Hummingbird could not stand this and decided to do something. It went to the water’s edge and picked up a drop of water and rushed to the fire, and dropped it on the fire to help put it out. She went back and forth and back and forth much to the others’ surprise. The elephants and others questioned her, how could this possibly help? How could she make a difference? The Hummingbird replied: I am doing the best I can”.

Each of us has our dreams. Do you ever get discouraged? I know sometimes I do. I see the problems with land use, mono-crop agriculture, and the effects pesticides cause on soil and bees. I often wonder how long it will take us to wake up and reclaim a relationship with this earth. When I hear about folks like Wangari Maathi, who made a difference one step at a time in the face of adversity, I am reminded to simply do the best I can.

Here in the northeast, she’s back visiting our gardens and bird feeders, much to our delight and fascination. This little bird delights us with her flying ability and how she stores food in early fall. These birds seem to migrate south based on shortening daylight. The hummingbird finds its primary nutrition in insects. They especially love baby spiders. Nectar gives them instant energy for their high metabolic needs, but the fat, oils, and minerals for their overall needs come from insects they find while flying or in the flowers they seek for their nectar. And contrary to local lore, they do not suck nectar through a “straw” but grab the sweet droplet of energy with a tongue.

What does the hummingbird mean to you? In my dream work with animal totems, I found that the hummingbird is associated with air as connected to intelligence, higher thought, and the ability to see the bigger picture. They seem to be constantly in motion, with rapid wing beats that represent persistence and a feeling of endlessness or infinity. Many cultures in the Americas believed the hummingbird represents rebirth.

Persistence, knowing I am enough, and knowing I am doing enough at this moment are great personal, daily reminders. Have hummingbirds flown into your awareness today? What do they mean to you?  I would love your comments.

Enjoy this wonderful day. Judith

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