The baby hummingbirds we rescued grew up, learned to fly, and left on migration. It was a miracle of sorts. And now, more than ten years after we raised those orphans, Brenda is helping to birth a new miracle.

      These days, she still fields calls about hummingbirds from around the country. Her house is still abuzz with hummers. But now, though she no longer rears orphans, she is still supporting these tiny, glittering gems of birds.And she is attempting, anew, yet another herculean task, with the creation of Yampa Sculpture Path and Studio.

     In the high desert, with a strip of rich grassland where ranchers pasture their cattle, she is creating a haven for art, for community, and for pollinators of all kinds.

     Her love for hummers has spiraled out to include bees, butterflies and moths as well. On their new land, Brenda and her husband Russ are planting groves and gardens. Pollinator plants will be everywhere: cornflowers, with their soft, fuzzy, blue double blossoms of fringed petals; Buddleias, or butterfly bush, with fragrant clusters of red, yellow, orange, pink, purple and white petals at the tips of arching branches;  columbine, bell-shaped, spurred flowers that dangle and nod with the breeze. She’s planting Salvia, its tiny, tubular, usually scarlet flowers stacked on tall stalks;  Penstamon, or Beard Tongue, sporting  towers of tubular flowers in colors ranging from crimson to electric blue. Gardens will be peppered with the shrub-like spires of Lupines, and dotted with Paintbrush, its stalks of linear leaves topped with bright red bracts.

     When we talk on the phone, I can almost see it: Brenda will be walking with visitors beneath a trellis covered with orange trumpet flowers, with Buddleias on the side and daisy-shaped bee balm on the bottom. Artists will gather at the old historic building, showing their work alongside the pollinator plants and teaching workshops. “I’d love to walk through an arbor with hummingbirds and bees and butterflies buzzing all round,” she says.

       One entire acre will be devoted to a particular pollinator garden that will be planted in a spiral. The idea behind it is, she explains, is that here, “you spiral down the path, representing your inner journey—accompanied by bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.”

         What better creatures to accompany any seeker on an inner journey? In Native American lore, bees symbolize community; Celtic myths tell us bees are spirit messenger from the Otherworld. Around the world, butterflies evoke the promise of metamorphosis. And the sparkling, hovering hummingbirds, because they are impossibly tiny and fast and beautiful, are emblems—as shall be Yampa Sculpture Path and Studio– of irrepressible life.

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PhotoPainting by Artist, Sherburn LaBelle


–International bestselling writer Sy Montgomery is the author of 30 books, including How To Be A Good Creature: A Memoir in 13 Animals.  Her next book, The Hummingbirds’ Gift: Wonder, Beauty and Renewal on Wings is about Brenda Sherburn LaBelle’s work with baby hummingbirds. It will be published by Simon and Schuster this May.