Sometimes when we have breakfast outside, a mockingbird lands on the Japanese maple in front of the house, then hops down to the porch flower box and eyes our plates. After an offering of scone or toast, he/she flies off with it, then returns for more. I wonder if there are little ones in a nearby nest? One morning I had my sketchbook with me.
I was sitting in the garden sketching plants when I became aware of a persistent rat-tat…rat-tat-tat…rat-tat… I finally looked up, and there on the tree trunk a few feet away was a female (no red patch on the head) downy woodpecker pecking for her breakfast. I had been sitting so still that she hadn’t paid attention to me. So I ve-e-e-ry slowly turned the page in my sketchbook and drew her instead.
When the news is truly terrible and you have sent off your donation and listened with awe and respect to those hastening selflessly to the rescue, and you are wondering what, what to do next, there can be a kind of hope in observing, after the overwhelming catastrophes of nature, its small surprises. Like the downy woodpecker that just showed up on our urban patio, and the juvenile Cooper’s hawk (!) on the telephone pole in the alley behind the house. Although the innocent grub and the songbird would undoubtedly regard these as catastrophes.