All of these thoughts, emotions, and uncontrolled reactions occurred within mere seconds as my arcing, fusing brain capacitors made what I realized after the fact was a preposterously stupid decision: my brain told my mind that the thing hovering some four feet from the grassy ground on this lovely summer day in the country was in fact a large shrimp.

A fist-sized fantail shrimp was floating in the air right in front of me!

The collision of concept and experience that occurred as my brain refused to accept what my brain was insisting upon brought about that lightheaded reality crash we call fainting. But I didn’t collapse to the sward in a pile of floppy flesh; I just gripped at a convenient drainpipe, stood my ground, and continued on as a third-party observer, while my memory-bank brain and my experience-receptor mind battled it out between themselves.

Imagine finding a rhinoceros in your apartment; think of a tiny zebra grazing on fennel leaves in your shoe, a dog trotting along the bottom of the ocean. Surreality is fun in paintings and movies but it’s a screaming panic in real life. The creature in front of my eyes was, in all apparent reality, an airborne crustacean. My senses were utterly out of control, civil war was breaking out in my head.

Then the creature lost interest in the tomatoes and sped away. It glided through the air in the same unnaturally vertical posture and with no apparent effort, as if controlled by thought; mind over matter like thought. The scene was nightmarish, surreal yet material and unmistakably real in the brightly defining sunshine of an otherwise ordinary day.

I watched the thing move through the warm golden air and then disappear into the thick greenery of the forest beyond.

BWS: FLYING SHRIMP 1980 Crayon on Board

Let me explain, now, what I discovered later about this phenomenon that had ripped my reality field loose of its moorings and shaken my non-conscious animal brain to the fore. The creature that filled me with such terror of the unknown was a hummingbird.

Hummingbirds have perhaps the most remarkable powers of flight of any bird, and are second to none in agility. They have supreme mastery of movement in the air, being able to hover motionless, fly backwards, sideways, or straight up and down, their wings moving so fast that they are invisible.

John Richards, Ornithologist

I had never, ever, seen a hummingbird before. This harmless, beautiful little creature was the cause of all the consternation and short-circuited, head-spinning catastrophes of my supposedly modern and sophisticated mind/brain complex.