Every Good Morning

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Pileated Woodpecker 2This cool, wet spring has given woodlands a weightier feel than I remember from last spring; like that, in a sharp snap of time, winter’s bare, long views have been wiped out by vines piled upon thorn bush and tree fall, by saplings pushing upon thicker-spreading big-leaved branches. On deep, gray sunless days the light on the lower trail looks as if it has been strained through green filters — no wind in the summits of the tulip poplars; not one breath out of place down here. We climb the trail along the side of the ridge, both of us hushed. Wolfie’s ears are up. He stays close.

Out of this stillness and silence something big and low to the ground shakes the undergrowth a few steps ahead and then jets in front of us, a foot off the path, more apparition than solid, its white-wing bars flashing once and then departing into the green shadows below us. Unmoving, Wolfie watches it, and still unmoving turns his head to look deeper into the ravine. Big as a crow, a Pileated Woodpecker had been perched on a stump, unhammering, now surprised, now barely disturbing the quiet with his rush.

The first drops hit the high leaves and a rolling, swishing sound descends and then even lines of  rain come hard, falling in the gaps.

© Mike Wall

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