The guilt-inducing power of many of the world's religions is impressive, indeed; almost as impressive as the power of certain mothers I have known (though fortunately not mine). But if you want to experience real sackcloth-and-ashes, chest-pounding, gnashing-and-wailing self-recrimination, try pulling up a gardenful of Agastache rupestris, otherwise known as licorice mint.
Also known as hummingbird mint.
Hummingbirds love it. A lot. It turns out that in addition to being beautiful, feisty, and territorial, black-chinned hummingbirds are astonishingly good at making a grown woman feel very, very small.
For the record, I did not neglect the hummingbirds. Theoretically, they are supposed to adore the blooms of autumn sage (Salvia greggii) and pineleaf penstemon (Penstemon pinifolius). They do adore them—I have observed them in the very act of adoring them in other people's gardens—and so I planted a number of both.
|"Wild Thing" Autumn Sage|
They come back to hover in front of you a little more. (Don't you know that hummingbirds have to consume more than their own weight in nectar every day?? Their 1,000 beats-per-minute heartrate doesn't just maintain itself, you know!) They test the drumstick allium blossoms and turn away in disgust. (They can literally starve overnight! To death! If they don't get enough nectar!) Weary, they perch in a tree branch and look at where the agastache should be. And then at you. (So what if your neighbors—twenty feet away—have feeders that could keep every hummingbird in town fat and sassy all summer? Sugar water is just Not the Same.) They fly over to the finch feeder, a decorative jobby that happens to be their favorite shade of red. (Ooh—sorrysorrysorry.) They tap on it. (And if the starving Lassie had risked her own life to rescue Timmy from the collapsed mine, you would have rewarded her with a rubber bone.) They hover at you some more. (Have you no shame?!) Repeat daily.
Lately when they hover at me, I gesture at the autumn sage, which is blooming its little head off. "Look here," I tell them, "Just because you're used to eating prime rib, that doesn't make filet mignon a bad thing." They feed at last. One sip from one bloom on each plant. One. And then they return to where the agastache used to be and hover. (Sigh.)
Guilty as charged, little ones.