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When Strong Winds Blow – Hunker Down

Sometimes your best response to adversity is to hunker down and hang in there.

There is no good in arguing with the inevitable.
The only argument available with an east wind is to put on your overcoat.

— James Russell Lowell

The other day the TV weatherman announced high wind warnings and a worrisome night – one that rousted me out of bed at midnight.  As my wind-buffeted house shuddered I worried, worried, worried over things not tied down: patio furniture, awnings, umbrellas… and the bitty little hummingbird perched directly in the path of those howling winds that were forecast to occasionally hit a whopping 80 miles per hour!

It makes no sense to worry about things you have no control over because there’s nothing you can do about them, and why worry about things you do control? The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized.

— Wayne Dyer

Yep, I was worrying over the wind.  Like I had any control over the wind. But there I was: awake, tossing, turning and fretting, restless and immobilized.  Eventually I realized it was worry, not wind that was keeping me from sleeping soundly.  So I got up and did what little I could do: I checked all the things that had me fretting…

  • Patio furniture out of the wind – check.
  • Awnings tied down securely – check.
  • Umbrellas down and secured – check.
  • Flags brought in – check.

And the hummingbird?  Well, she was hunkered down over her two fragile eggs with only the tips of her tail and beak proving her protective presence.  The branch she’d built upon? It was DANCING in the wind! Fiercely waving. Up. Down. Swaying violently in the roaring winds.  But the hummingbird? SHE was hunkered down, riding out the storm.

Checking on the hummingbird finally gave me something constructive to do, something better than prowling about the house looking for trouble: I removed the chimes that hung above her nest.  At least now the wind couldn’t clobber her with my chimes!  It wasn’t much, but it was something I could control, something I could do.  Then I went back to bed and, despite the howling winds, slept peacefully through the rest of the night.

Hummer Lessons

Adversity is like a strong wind.
It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.

— Arthur Golden

My friend Lynne loves hummingbirds and affectionately calls them “hummers”.  The hummers in her neighborhood head for her house when they’re hungry ’cuz she always keeps her feeders full!  Lynne tells me that hummingbirds live 5 years… not a long life but they live it fully – watch one flit about and you’ll marvel at their speed and energy!  And if you’re ever lucky enough to find a nest, you’ll realize that they’re very efficient and effective builders – their nests are built to last regardless of wind and weather!

So let’s see, what lessons we can learn from these industrious little birds?  Here are some that come to mind:

  • Worry not.
  • Build well, establish a strong foundation.
  • Fill your days with good work.
  • Face danger.
  • Provide for your peeps.
  • Hunker down when you must.
  • Do what you can when you can.

Perhaps you can add to this list?  As I think about these hummer lessons, a human story comes to mind.  Recently one of the TV news broadcast featured World War II veteran Jack Tueller:

Going into Battle Armed with a Trumpet

by John Torigoe, CNN

Jack Tueller learned to play the trumpet as a child growing up in Wyoming… Tueller became a World War II pilot and carried his trumpet in his cockpit. He says his playing once prevented a German sniper from killing him. … It was two weeks after D-Day, a few miles from the bloody shores of Omaha Beach. An airstrip had been carved out of the Normandy countryside, costing the lives of 28 Army engineers at the hands of German snipers.  A lone sniper still remained in the nighttime distance.

Despite the risk, Capt. Jack Tueller felt compelled to play his trumpet. “I was told, ‘Captain, don’t play tonight; your trumpet makes the most glorious sound,’ but I was stressed,” he said. He was so troubled that he was willing to take a chance the sniper wouldn’t fire.  “I thought to myself, that German sniper is as lonely and scared as I am. How can I stop him from firing?”

So I played that German love song, ‘Lilly Marlene,’ made famous in the late ’30s by Marlene Dietrich, the famous German actress. And I wailed that trumpet over those apple orchards of Normandy, and he didn’t fire.

“The next morning, the military police came up to Tueller and told him they had a German prisoner on the beach who kept asking, ‘Who played that trumpet last night?’”

“I grabbed my trumpet and went down to the beach. There was a 19-year-old German, scared and lonesome. He was dressed like a French peasant to cloak his role as a sniper. And, crying, he said, ‘I couldn’t fire because I thought of my fiancé. I thought of my mother and father,’ and he says, ‘My role is finished.’ “He stuck out his hand, and I shook the hand of the enemy,” Tueller said. “[But] he was no enemy, because music had soothed the savage beast.” …

Now 89, Tueller takes care of Marjorie, his wife of 68 years, who has Alzheimer’s disease. As Veterans Day approaches, he has a word of advice to veterans: “When you become a veteran, it’s my opinion that you should do everything to make people realize the wonderful life that you really have.” He still has his trumpet of 70 years and still performs at schools, family get-togethers and church functions.

Jack Tueller has lived his life doing what must be done while savoring the goodness where he finds it. His life epitomizes the Hummer Lessons which bear repeating:

  • Worry not.
  • Build well, establish a strong foundation.
  • Fill your days with good work.
  • Face danger.
  • Provide for your peeps.
  • Hunker down when you must.
  • Do what you can when you can.
Surely you too have had to hunker down in howling winds… how did you hang in there? What lessons can you share?

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Cup o’ Inspiration

cup with steam swirl

Take a short break and consider the following:

“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”

Ashley Smith

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