Every head on the bus turned, every eye was trained on the dense flowers covering the trees like a thick layer of light pink cotton candy as we pulled into the parking lot of the Columbia River Gorge Interpretive Center. Cherry blossoms have that effect on people.
For many, the transformation of cherry trees from sticks to pink clouds is the very definition of spring. Nearly anywhere there are cherry trees, there are people waiting eagerly to see them. For some people, the distance can be quite great, indeed.
Along with our bus full of blossom peepers enjoying the show from a hundred yards off, another band of cherry devotees were filling the air around the aromatic trees. Rufous hummingbirds––more than a dozen of them––were buzzing from flower to sweet, nectar-filled flower. Some protected a specific limb, chasing off would be competitors, and others contentedly shared a tree, moving around one another in a dance that appeared choreographed.
As we watched the hum of excitement, a particular diner stood out from the rest. One little bird, smaller than the rest, did not share the lovely cinnamon of the pack, but rather sported a green waistcoat and a pinkish-purple doily of a long handlebar mustache. A lone Calliope hummingbird who flew, most likely, from Mexico to find a feast in Oregon and, quite unwittingly, to delight our small troupe of observers gathered from around the country.