BAM. BAM. BAM. The red crest of a pileated woodpecker flashes into view from the dead side of a maple, sunrise orange on the hill behind.
A pileated woodpecker hammers on a dead tree, resonant as it never was in life. I watch ground fog form and dissipate into a clear dawn sky.
A cool, clear autumn morning. Every few minutes, another alarm call breaks the silence: pileated woodpecker. Bluejays. A frantic squirrel.
A black-and-white warbler’s two-syllable whisper; drumroll from a Good God bird. The clock is blinking—what time is it? The patter of rain.
It’s snowing. A pileated woodpecker drums twice in Margaret’s yard: a resonant timpanum. Then sleet: rapid brushes on a taut skin.
Trains going through the gap sound close: rain’s on the way. A pileated comes yelling into the yard just as the first drops begin to fall.
Commotion among the pileated woodpeckers: cackling, drumming. One swoops past and lands on the side of a tree with a magician’s flourish.
Christmas—the quietest morning of the year. The stream is a full chorus. A pileated woodpecker flaps overhead, cheering itself on.