Howard Hummingbird

There was a little boy who lived down the street from us when I was growing up that used to love to hang from tree limbs and anything else he could climb up.  He would wrap his legs around a limb or a pole on a Jungle Jim hanging upside down so he could see things no one else could see.  His Mom and Dad would run outside to see if he was all right and he would laugh and laugh and laugh.  They looked silly upside down.  Then he would pull himself right side up, climb down, and run off to find another tree to tackle. 

One day Mom came outside to get the mail in front of the house and Howard was hanging from the roof awning over the front porch.  “I swear,” she said.  “You’re a hummingbird!  Again, hanging upside down treading air with your pretend cardboard camera.  What are you taking pictures of now?”  Howard giggled because his shirt fell down and Mom tickled his belly button.

He whispered, “Come here.  Quiet Mom, look over there.  Look, it’s a bird’s nest!  Can you hear the baby birds?  The mom went to get some worms.  Don’t scare them.  They are so little.  Can you hear them squeaking?  Did I sound like that when I was a baby?” 

“Just a little,” Mom laughed remembering baby Howard learning to walk bending over looking at her upside down through his little legs.  Nothing’s changed she thought.  “But I didn’t make you eat worms.”  Howard laughed quietly; just another day with Howard upside down with his pretend camera. 

That night after Howard went to bed with his cardboard camera instead of a stuffed animal, Mom and Dad were sitting on the couch talking, watching TV.  “Do you think we should get Howard a bicycle?  Or maybe a baseball glove and ball.  Naomi, what does Howard want for his birthday,” Dad asked?  “I would like to get him something special since he did so well in third grade last year.”  

“He’s going to be nine years old.  I think he’s old enough to have a real camera,” Naomi smiled at David.

On Sunday Grandma and Grandpa came over early for dinner.  Howard asked them to come out in the backyard so he could shoot pretend pictures with his cardboard camera.  Of course, they played along sitting in the chairs smiling and making faces at the camera.  Howard said, “Wait a minute, let me climb up and get a better shot of you guys.”  Up the tree limb went Howard hanging by his legs, upside down as usual, treading air just like his favorite hummingbird that came to drink from the hummingbird feeder every day.

While they were all outside, Mom and Dad snuck out of the house and went to the camera store and bought Howard his very own real camera.  A grown up one with a lens he could put on for taking close ups of bugs, crickets, dragonflies, or baby birds.  It even had its own strap for hanging over one’s shoulder or on the nearest tree limb.  The clerk at the store put all the special pieces, the lens, and the camera in a camera bag; then in a box and wrapped it in beautiful paper with a bow for Howard’s birthday.

The next Saturday Naomi and David had a big birthday party for Howard’s ninth birthday. The whole neighborhood was invited (including me).  All these years later I remember the cake looked like a chocolate camera and Howard hanging upside down from a tree limb in the backyard taking a picture of the hummingbird that came to visit a little boy’s birthday.

All rights reserved.  ©2010 by Sara Fryd

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