Friday, February 11, 2011

In Praise of Dead Wood

 While eating breakfast at Clover Slope the other day, I looked out to see a Red-headed Woodpecker on the tree right by the deck. This was a beautiful specimen, rounded with full-blown markings and a brilliant red head (of course!)  I am sorry that I was not quick enough to get a photo. Between the snow and the bare trees, woodpeckers have been very much on view.  The elegant and improbable Pileated Woodpecker, which I can hear but not see all summer long has become a ho-hum sight this winter.  The more camouflaged Northern Flicker is a regular, too.  There are Downies up and about, and Red-bellies and certainly many others I have not been quick or knowledgeable enough to officially see.  The point is that there seem to be more woodpeckers in these parts than anyplace else that I frequent.  No doubt this is because of the deed wood that is part of our landscape.  We are encouraged by Virginia Kingsolver to let deed trees be, for this very reason.  It is working beautifully.
     This reminds me of recent studies suggesting that part of the prevalence of allergies and asthma these days might be due to growing up in an overly clean interior environment. Apparently, we need pet dander and a general smattering of germs to help build up our natural defenses. The detergent  that kills 99% of all bacteria is working against us!
     And from there, I take the step to the number one solution for everything these days:  clear your clutter!  Believe me, I have some clutter to clear.  "Too muchness" is a drag.  I have not seen any of the hoarding shows that abound, but I imagine they would set me to sorting pronto!  But perhaps this constant need to purge, to rid ourselves of everything that is not of use to our own personal life plan is another sort of "kills 99%" detergent.  Maybe this is just an attempt at complete control over our lives (and sometimes others'.)
     The problem is, this limits us to only our particular gifts and allows no room for the genius of the world to enter.  May I always have room for a little dead wood in my life.

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