Woodpecker at Work

We have a silver maple that’s been battered a bit the past few winters and has some dead branches that need to be removed. Until we get around to taking care of them, it looks like the local woodpeckers—and there’re a lot of them these days because of the Emerald Ash Borers that are marching through the village’s trees—the woodpeckers are going to have a go at them.

This guy is NOT messing around

The woodpecker in the video is as big as a cat and he went on like this for a few days. He’s clearly digging into the wood rather than looking for bugs under the bark, and so, I thought maybe he was gauging out a nest. But when he finally decided he was done, he took off and started hacking away at the stump of an ash tree we cut down last spring, a stump he soon abandoned in turn. So in the end, I’m not sure what he was up to. Until I learn better, I’m going to call it “play.”

Whatever the case, the maple branch is torn to pieces.

“And yea, the woodpecker did moveth on, and where he hath trod is desolation.”

Winter Creek

Last weekend we had the first sunny days in weeks (but it felt like months). So the Beav suggested we go walking on the river. Now, I know the ice is solid at this point. The snowmobiles are running up and down daily. But I lived in the heat too long as a child to be comfortable on frozen rivers and lakes and wasn’t keen on the idea.

Then he suggested we walk up a side creek he’d been wanting to canoe with his sister in the summer. This sounded less ominous: slower shallower water awaited if we broke through (which we wouldn’t and didn’t). This became our day.

Improbable Fruit

Last year when my Mom visited for Thanksgiving—Canadian Thanksgiving, in October, not the American holiday in November—we decorated my newly rebuilt porch with strange pumpkins and squash. I fetched a birch log from the wood pile, and we had a holiday arrangement that looked good enough to keep around for weeks rather than days.

After the first freeze though, everything sagged. So I went out, collected the soft fruit and tossed everything in the garden. Winter came. Then this spring, I went out to turn the soil and everything had broken apart and come to pieces. I saw seeds, but ignored them. They sprouted though, and I’ve kept them all, pushing them back off the peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and rhubarb, but otherwise giving them free rein to do what they’d like.

So now I have acorn squash, regular pumpkins, white pumpkins, very strangely shaped and bright red pumpkins. I have acorn squash, some kind of yellow squash I don’t recognize. Maybe more even. And they are growing everywhere, even on the fences, producing improbable fruit and it’s exciting and encouraging.

There’s wisdom in leaving things alone, letting them be.

November

Scrub fields, blue sky, and the last of the autumn leaves. Winter’s not here, but he’s looking out from these grey-soon woods and testing the air.

All our efforts cannot even succeed in reproducing the nest of the tiniest little bird, its contexture, its beauty and convenience; or even the web of the puny spider.

—Michel de Montaigne, “Of Cannibals” (and re:)

Stoplight Scene

The neighbouring village had a temporary stoplight for a few weeks as road crews did some work on the bank of the river. Seeing as how the village is a sleepy, stop-signs-only kind of place, the change—I could get caught by a red light! Grrrr!—felt big time and sophisticated, especially since the light wasn’t around long enough to actually become annoying.

Stopped one day last week on my way home, I stared out over the fields rather than at the river. My mind was wandering around elsewhere, and so I only realized how beautiful the scene was as the signal flipped to green. There were cars behind me, but I grabbed my phone and snapped a quick pic before taking off.

And no one honked.