Monday, January 19, 2015


I think it's time to write about something besides writing,  

Not birds. Or maybe not-birds. Ed Hazell and I drove out to Forest Hills Cemetery in a remote corner of Boston to see a reported black-backed woodpecker, which is usually a bird of the Canadian north. Sun just rising -- I drove straight into it, plus the windshield slow to de-fog; had to pull over once. There was also black ice when we arrived at the cemetery. 

Gates were locked. We managed to thread our way through a car-wide passage around a storage facility, and found our way to the spot, a small rise where the gravestones of Henry O. Aldrich and several Pilkins back onto a copse of trees, a small slice of a woods.This was where the woodpecker had turned up every morning between 8 and 9:30. Does this story end with a stunning view of Picoides arcticus flaking bark off a spruce? No. We stood around with a handful of other binoculared and long-lensed suitors, listening to other birds--nuthatches and chickadees. A red-tailed hawk came by. We glanced at our watches, not surprised, more like routinely disappointed. Which eventually becomes an only slightly less valuable outcome than if we had seen it. Because we had engaged with the world  and maybe were seen by the woodpecker, which doesn't count. But we do.   

One not-seen black-backed woodpecker

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