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It wasn't until I was out of action for two months last summer that I realized how many commonplace miracles I had long taken for granted. Restricted from puttering in the vegetable patch, I was inordinately pleased when my husband brought up the first firm green peppers - sweeter than any I'd ever tasted. And a small bucket of wax beans was a revelation - unexpected since I'd last seen those plants barely beginning to blossom and threatened by rabbits. It was the same with lettuce, chard, and parsley - and that pristine scarlet tomato on its bed of pungent basil. Had I been up and around, the progression of veggies would have been but casually appreciated - a natural routine toward seasonal repletion.

But it was the small, often unnoticed, certainly unexamined miracles that absorbed my attention during that period. All my senses, it seemed, were on overtime alert. I spent hours facing the flower garden, with a broken foot propped on the rail fence. It was there I observed minute wonders, tiny life styles, endless activities of nature's tiniest creatures. I shouldn't have needed a reason to slow down and marvel. From bees to butterflies, hummingbirds to robins - all performed on the stage before me.

Sitting there one hot afternoon, I was alerted to a wee sound almost like a chirp. There, almost within arm's reach, was an iridescent hummingbird casing the fragrant Madonnas. It was actually emitting strange musical sounds as its stiletto beak drew nectar from the golden-throated lilies. Unmindful of me, its wings a blur, it helicoptered over the garden. So slick that dark green body, that scarlet gorget, I wondered: Can they be feathers ? Is it really a bird? In exquisite awe, not daring to move, I watched till arrow-like it was off, and I breathed free again.


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