Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Weary and Worn, A Woodpecker's Wisdom

The birds woke me up this morning. Well, that's not true. I was already awake waiting for them. A wood thrush, a Carolina wren. I love the morning calm. Warm cup of coffee. Fading darkness, gray morning light. I start to think about the day ahead. I have so much to do.

In the office today, I'll plant a few seeds. We are at the start of another growing season. Two publications went off to the printer. I start all over again. I'm a little spent just now. Weary from the last "growing" season. I have nothing but bare ground. I'll need to replenish the soil. Sketch some plans. Call on some experts. But people are waiting on me and I wish I had a little more time. The pace unnerves me. Rapid fire pings in my email box tighten my neck muscles.

With my attention splayed and split from one project to another, my eyes don't focus on the small things anymore and I miss things that I once easily caught. I worry that I will begin to make more errors. At night in my sleep, that worry turns to an all-night-long, dream-state anxiety and I can feel the breath catch in my throat even as I am sleeping.

Where in my garden can I find the tools to soothe my soul? Breathe deeply. Imagine the calm space. My worn, wooden chair beneath the dogwood. It's worm-ridden wood at my back. A cool breeze at my neck. Nothing disturbs me. Even the sharp, war-like call of the pilliated woodpecker. His red crown flashes in the grass. First I see him. Then I don't. His head bobbing like a chicken ducks beneath the grasses. His call resonates in the air, sounding more like something heard in an Amazonian rain forest rather than a backyard suburban garden.

And then he unfurls his wings, and never seeing me there in my chair, he flies straight at my head. As he swoops in, bringing our distance to a range that is rare between animal and human, I feel the power of his wings. He lands on the trunk of the dogwood just five feet in back of my chair. I hardly breathe admiring his incredible size and studying the variations of gray and white in his feathers. We sit there the two of us together. Time collapses. I slowly let loose my breathe. And then finally, he leaps with a surge of power and leaves me there in my chair, a weary soul, human--and bound to make a few mistakes. When will I find the wisdom to accept that? The Putterer

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