High Desert Hoofbeats: Oct. 10, 2019

There have been no visitors to my hummingbird feeder for more than a week, so I’m pretty sure the winged marvels have blown away to warmer climes. Recent winds have been enough to make any bird skedaddle out of here.

I’d thought that the hummers were all gone in late September when I gathered up my various feeders, washed out the dead ants and sticky syrup, and put the containers in the cabinet until next spring. But then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted one or two hummingbirds still hovering around. I quickly made a small batch of nectar, reasoning that the late leavers needed to tank up before heading out. A few came for sips but didn’t drink much. They’ve all gone away now.

My mom once told me that she stopped feeding her hummers in early fall, so as not to encourage them to hang around longer than they should. I don’t know how much we can artificially change birds’ habits, but I can’t resist feeding them when I know they are near. Every spring I hear hummingbirds before I see them, their telltale buzz of wings going faster than I can imagine. They usually show up about the same time and place that Indian paintbrush starts to bloom.

Last week my mom’s column began with the words “walking”and “waulking.” She explained that she does both, and she contrasted the differences of the two activities. This week, our family is sad to report that Adrien will not be doing either of those things anytime soon. Last Wednesday, she suffered a stroke and was flown to the University of Utah Hospital where she is being cared for.

Adrien has been keeping a close eye on this paper since 1961, when she married my dad. She turns 80 years old Oct. 15, and aside from her home, she has spent the majority of her time in the newspaper office. While she partially retired a dozen or so years ago, she has rarely missed a Tuesday or Wednesday at the paper, proof-reading stories, guiding editorial decisions, and visiting with staff and members of the public who walk in the door. It’s been a treat the last several months to have her write columns again.

We have a decades-long custom on Wednesdays of having a staff lunch in the office. It’s a very busy few hours on that day, finishing up stories, laying out the final pages, getting the paper on the press, and then interleaving all the sections and inserts so that they can be mailed by 5 p.m. It’s a big group effort, so the staff stays in the office for most of the day until the papers are off to the post office and in news stands.

Last Wednesday, we felt something was amiss when Adrien didn’t come downtown for lunch. When a call to her house went unanswered, Tom drove over to check on her, only to find that she’d had a stroke. Although she appeared to be sitting comfortably in her favorite chair watching TV, it was quickly apparent that all was not OK.

The ambulance came and whisked her to Moab Regional, where a scan quickly revealed a bleed in her brain. A short while later she was helicoptered to Salt Lake, where she will stay for an unknown period. After being in intensive care for several days, she is now in rehab, where she is likely to stay for a few weeks.

Mom is tough. She fought back 15 years ago from a stroke, teaching herself how to knit and write and drive again. In her last column, she wrote about breaking her leg in college, and learning how to walk again. Adrien is one of the most proudly independent people I’ve ever known. She does as she likes, and she likes what she does. In fact, she loves what she does. But it’s likely to be a while before she is writing about her “Many Trails” or spinning wool or knitting a scarf. That’s OK. Time is already proving to be a healer.

Mom is in good hands at the U. We will take turns nipping up to Salt Lake to visit her. We will carry on as best as we can here at the Times, but don’t be surprised if we miss a few typos in her absence. It may be awhile before she’s back in her hometown, walking, waulking or otherwise enjoying life. Like the hummingbirds, she is gone for a while, and we are anxious to have her return.