With what has been happening over, oh, the last week or so, I needed to get out of society for a little while this weekend.
Fox Island in the snow made the perfect escape for a couple of hours. It was a really good snow. The flakes were big, they fell slowly, and it was hovering right around the freezing point so they didn’t make a mess of things.
Birding was slow. On another day, I would have been disappointed. But it was good to hang out with familiar friends and just be in the moment.
This Hairy Woodpecker did a pretty good job of showing how I felt most of the week: sluggish and wanting to close my eyes in response to everything.
I empathized with the woodpeckers a lot, actually.
Frequently, I have felt like banging my head against a tree.
Seeing what is going on in my country makes me want to bang my head against a tree so hard that it breaks through to the other side.
The woodpeckers had it right in more than one way, though. They were doing their best with each other, even when species and ecological niches collided. There was no conflict in this tree that for a moment held both a Hairy and a Downy Woodpecker.
Despite all odds, this American Elm reaches to unexpected heights in an area of the country where they have been all but extirpated by Dutch Elm Disease. This particular tree grows right next to a trail and has a plaque next to it that says something along the lines of “American Elms rarely grow this large before they are killed by disease. They are characterized by their unique bark, which alternates between layers of red and white much like the stripes on the American flag.” How is that for a heavy-handed metaphor? Hopeful, nonetheless.
If you have felt the way I do since about January 20th, don’t despair. Keep doing what you are good at. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are too angry or that you are not angry enough. And if nothing else, take the words of my state’s greatest author to heart:
“If you can do no good, then at least do no harm.” -Kurt Vonnegut
At the very least, go outside and look up, be it into the sky or into the tree tops. It will help.