I’m in the kitchen, throwing together Quick Orange Coffee Cake, a recipe I got from my mother and have been eating my entire life, for a late breakfast. Alison Krauss is serenading me as I stir the brown sugar and walnuts into orange zest and butter, and through the window I spy a bird diving into the brush pile beneath the tree that’s waiting for Brush and Bulky pickup at the end of the month.
I am surprised to see that it’s a Gila Woodpecker and that he has daintily selected one of a zillion dry, dead leaves and brought it back up to the mesquite branch whence he came. I have a long, not-entirely-happy history with woodpeckers at this house, and we seem to have come to a tacit truce, in that he no longer opens big holes in the siding of my Arizona room, and I no longer chase him off my hummingbird feeder. Seems Mr. Woodpecker has a sweet tooth. Or beak, rather. And if I have to fill my feeders more often, it’s a small price to pay to keep my house continent.
In any case, I leave my station at the stove to see if there’s a nest about to happen in my tree, though it’s not really the right time of year for that. But no, he is pecking at the leaf, and I consider that there must be bugs on the leaf, because I wasn’t aware that woodpeckers are herbivores. (The internet tells me they will eat fruits of desert plants and also steal dog food, in addition to insects and drinking at hummingbird feeders.) And I think how funny it is we’re both making breakfast at the same time.
Down the tree branch a ways is a cactus wren, not doing much but hanging out, but he’s alert, watching for I don’t know what. Maybe me. And I decide that everything at the stove is okay for the moment, and I sit down in the chair at my sewing desk to watch these birds for a bit, because I’m curious about the woodpecker, and I like cactus wrens. And because of late, I’m making it my mission to play more, to stop and make time for whimsical moments and curiosities that make me smile, in defiant opposition to the inevitable life and world events that will grind you down into bitter dust without hesitation, if you let it. It’s been doing that to me, and I’ve decided I need to fight back while there’s still something of my loving soul and once-expansive heart left.
And I’m rewarded for my choice as I notice there are at least three cactus wrens at work in my yard. And Hairdo Herb, the black-chinned hummingbird with the cowlick of feathers, is zipping back and forth to the feeder on the other side of the Arizona room. And just when I’m about to get up to check on my breakfast, a Cooper’s Hawk sails through the yard on his way to the wash behind our house, so I sit a moment longer, lest I miss something good.