Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Feathered Conqueror

The drilling sounded close yet I could not quite get my bearings on the location where the workers had begun their early morning task. I opened the front door. No sign of workers, and, it seemed that the workers had ceased their work when I went outside. Once more I returned to the house. Again the drilling.

The drilling I heard that morning two years ago finds its way into the neighborhood once more. The drill hitting the target beating at it to break up its essence is no longer a mystery. I didn’t discover the source on my own. My neighbor told me of the phenomenon…..a woodpecker trying to drill a hole into the chimney flue. Stupid bird.

A sound would echo across the farm. “Come here,” Dad would say. “Look in at that tree.”

I would strain to see what he was pointing out to me. Not unusual. Dad was always showing me something new in nature. Finally my eyes would find the bird hanging onto the side of the tree neatly pounding its beak into an unseen hole. Dad explained that the bird was searching for bugs beneath the bark of the tree. I was fascinated. I could no more hit the same hole over and over with a pointed stick let along something hooked to the front of my face. The familiar sound of the woodpecker echoing from a distance was a sound of the country.

This morning the woodpecker is looking for food in my chimney flue. The metal rattles as the bird refuses to give up potential food. Obviously, the bird has a problem with recognition and texture. Yet it is good for a morning chuckle. As the bird attacks the insect riddled flue, I notice another attacking the suet hanging in its little cage on the tree. The big bird hangs on to a small limb poking a long beak into the fat and seeds. Obviously, this bird realizes that it can feast without toil while its crazy kin is determined to search for food in an unrelenting source.

I’m not on Neff Road, a young girl standing in the yard looking for the source of tap, tap, tap. Dad would laugh at the crazy bird trying desperately to find a weakness in the flue’s exterior. I hope this is not a sign of the confusion facing our wildlife with global changes and progress. Truly, I hope this is just a bird, a feathered explorer, a conqueror trying to tear down the monster that cuts down the trees, who destroys the forests and who no longer stands in the yard awed by nature doing what it does naturally.

Listen, Neff Road. Listen to a memory for a town girl.

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