The curious satisfaction of watching snow erase my own footprints. Up in the woods, the woodpeckers too are busy fixing what isn’t broken.
I bathe in the idea of sun more than in the sunlight itself—feeble and without much warmth. A woodpecker beats his head against a dead tree.
The silence of steadily falling snow, punctuated by the tapping of a downy woodpecker and the distant scolding of a squirrel.
In the poor light, the quick movements of birds: those that chatter, those that flutter, those that scuttle like beetles, those that tap.
Windy and cold. A downy woodpecker works over the dead cherry, sounding like a fast hunt-and-peck typist. A towhee calls from the lilac.
A small woodpecker has found a resonant snag and works it for all it’s worth. A rival responds, but his rattle is too thin and he quits.
Two male woodpeckers rattle at each other from 100 yards apart. A carpenter bee inspects the porch, its drone a perfect generator of unease.
Pausing every few minutes for a lightning-quick copulation, a pair of downy woodpeckers circle a walnut tree trunk and probe its bark.
This morning’s stillness is made of fresh snow, a distant jet, the quiet squeaks of a downy woodpecker and a dove’s whistling wings.
It’s very cold; the tall locust at the woods’ edge creaks with ice. A woodpecker taps on the topmost limb, silhouetted against pink clouds.
Snow piles up on branches, as if the white sky were descending on a chaos of ladders. Only a woodpecker’s soft tapping breaks the silence.
A downy woodpecker lands in the dead cherry tree. She trills and the rotten limbs tremble, taps and they make hardly a sound.
Wind from a distant storm blows the leaves backwards. In lieu of thunder, a downy woodpecker’s fast rattle on a hollow limb.
A downy woodpecker has found a loud limb to hammer. When the din stops, he’s with a female. That brief cloacal kiss that passes for sex.
Woodpeckers drumming at sunrise. It occurs to me that they might not be telegraphing “I am here” so much as verifying that the world is.
A downy woodpecker gleans breakfast from the dead cherry, chirping between taps. A mackerel sky. The smell of thawed earth.