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Nature Fix for a Dumb Monday

Monday, January 30, 2006

I always think I'm going to get so darn much done on Mondays, but usually I wind up multitasking so frantically that I get little bits of a bunch of things accomplished. Emails fly madly, the phone rings; I rush around like a gerbil. Today I figured I'd better check my rapidly filling engagements calendar before I double-book something. I'd had a creepy little feeling for a week or so that there was something funny about April 20. It's like having a strange feeling that you've forgotten something, and then there's that moment when you realize you've left the casserole on the roof of the car--and you're already hurtling down I-95 at 70 mph. So I braced myself, and confirmed that I had indeed booked myself for a talk in Washington D.C. and an art opening in Albany (where I have a painting to show) on the same day. D'oh! Casserole's all over the pavement.
After sending some lame emails and phone messages around, I finally decided that the thing to do would be to fulfill my commitment in D.C. and (very reluctantly) miss the opening, because, while it would be terrific to see my friends there, nobody was actually counting on my being at the opening. Then I'd drive straight from Washington to Albany to see my artist friends who would be gathering there for the weekend. It'll be punishing, but not punishment enough for being such a knucklehead.
Had to clear my head. Felt the woods calling. That's the only thing that fixes me when stuff like this happens. I stick my nose in Baker's shoulder blades, take a deep snort of his sweet dog smell, and head out with him. He's my jester. He's absolutely serious about taking Scooby back around the Loop another time. I'm not encouraging it, one bit. If he wants to do it, fine, but I don't think Scoob has another Loop in him, do you?
The pair of redtails that always scolds me when I near the overlook was together, and circling low today. That's a real spring sign. The woods was softly lit with high, diffuse sun, that's hinting of changes in the weather very soon. But for today, it was lovely again, in the upper 50's, and I was out in just a long-sleeved denim shirt and vest. It's been a long time since we've had a January this mild. I went from turmoil to bliss faster than you can say "Speeear!"
Chet and I paused briefly on a rock over the shining stream, and I wished I had a picture of us there, so you'd feel you were on the hike with us. Then I remembered the trick of holding the camera up and shooting oneself, which works a lot better when you have long arms. But I got a nice image that could be captioned, "Happiness is a Warm Puppy."
We hiked hard, doing three major climbs, and it felt wonderful. On the way back up through our old orchard, I heard the commanding roll of a pileated woopecker drumming--from very close by. I froze and figured out where it was coming from--a dead ash with a hollow bole. Creeping forward, I pre-focused on the most likely part of the trunk, and took a picture that actually includes the bird, though I hadn't yet found it. Do you see him?

Against all odds, he hitched around into view, and I got him in the act of drumming. This close, it sounded just like a machine gun!The trees I've seen them drumming on are mostly quite dead, and they resonate like a guitar top. This one even has a sound hole!

And then, he posed for a moment before flying off. He never seemed alarmed at my presence. What a gift. Zick, all better.


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