Sunday, November 25, 2007

I see woodpeckers.

For some reason last night, probably punishment for shirking my dish-washing responsibilities, I ended up watching a particularly inane episode of Larry King. It was about people who communicate with dead people, people who detect ghosts, people who know all about what happens after we die. Shirley McLean was an expert guest. Larry was dim and uncritical, his trademark m.o. The point of mentioning this is that one of the panel members attributed her ability to notice dead people to a heightened "gift," much as certain people are able to play the piano. I thought little of that tidbit of wisdom last night, but it hit home today. I too have a gift. Not ghosts. Not piano. I am able to see woodpeckers no one else sees.

Here's one -- a fledgling downy in a Japanese maple last summer. No one else saw it, I'm certain. People think woodpeckers are like penguins or ostriches or Larry King. They exist, but you rarely encounter them.

Pshaw. Really, how can one not knowingly encounter woodpeckers? Downys, flickers and sapsuckers are around all the time, even in suburbs as sterile as this. Heck, put out a suet block and you may even draw a pileated if you live within a half mile of a small forest. Woodpeckers are noisy. They chatter and shriek. They hammer on metal surfaces in the spring to make even more noise. They fly funny - flap flap flap - swoooop- flap flap flap - swooop. They have dashing flashes of colour.

A male Downy, at the suet today. Dapper, but with that striking red occipital spot. Who would not notice that? Sadly, almost everyone. But I noticed it. I see woodpeckers.

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