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Humming along

So, it’s August in Georgetown. Not much is happening in my house these days. My children are gone for a week and the silence is both deafening and delightful. It’s the first time in years that I’ve actually been alone for more than a day or two. In the past, when the girls have been away, I’ve filled the void visiting friends or my parents or boyfriend. Frankly, I was probably afraid of being alone for too long. But this week has been anything but lonely. I’ve had lots of time to write, get the front door knob fixed, rearrange paintings in the living room, fill out school forms, visit museums (National Gallery and Phillips Collection), see a play (Uncle Vanya at The Kennedy Center), update Angus’s shots, and muck out my house. I’m referring to it as summer cleaning since I obviously skipped the spring one. As I go through dog-eared children’s books, deciding what to keep and what to give away, it takes me back. How did I get three copies of Good Night Moon (one in Spanish)? I find folded onesies and smocked dresses in the attic, hermetically sealed in plastic bins. I usually give the girls’ old clothes to my two god-daughters, but, somehow, these items missed the cut. And as cliche as it sounds, they are a reminder of how quickly time passes. The older I get, the faster life accelerates. It’s like a lead foot on the gas pedal. Am I running out of time? Will I accomplish what I want in life? What do I want? What do I want for my children? To be kind, to help others, to have fun, to have faith, to be curious, to be grateful. To notice. So this time alone has given me pause--literally. Not only am I rearranging the furniture, I’m reassessing my priorities. Some have their Eat-Pray-Love moments trotting across the globe. I’m having mine on P Street. Earlier this week, after taking pictures for The Georgetown Dish of an out-of-control cab that ended up on the sidewalk near my friend’s house, I turned to walk back toward my house. Shuffling slowly in front of me was a homeless man. He stopped to look at something to his right, then pivoted around in my direction. Gesturing toward a bed of zinnias, he said, “Now that’s what you should be taking pictures of. Do you see that Hummingbird there?” “Oh my gosh. Wow!” I said. “You’re right. I’ll see if I can get a picture.” The bird hovered over a hot pink zinnia, it’s needle-like bill poking into the yellow center. I pointed my iPhone in the direction of the flowers and clicked a few times, but couldn’t see the bird on the screen. The sun’s reflection was too bright. So I just stood and stared. A few seconds passed before it whirred away in front of us. “You don’t often see that in the city, do you?” the man said. “No. No, you don’t. Thanks for pointing it out to me.” I got home and discovered the camera had captured the Hummingbird. It was not clear as day, but it was there. Like life, maybe not so clear, but there to be captured, appreciated. And it took a homeless man to help me notice.