In native spiritual lore the woodpecker carries far more meaning than just being a pretty bird who pecks at trees.
She heralds upcoming great change in the life of the person she has chosen to bestow her presence on. That opportunity is knocking and it’s up to you to seize the moment.
Our everyday exchanges with the wildlife outside our doors are not meant to mean much of anything. We are always on one side of our door and they are on the other, with them having the great advantage of being far more elusive about their wanderings than we are. For an animal to have a deeper meaning for us, we are supposed to have an encounter that is a little more special, more unusual.
Woodpeckers did that for me and were part of the process of alerting me to the opportunity that I had waiting for me back home in Brighton in the way of The Birdhouse Nature Store. The learning curve has been steep here and it continues – I swear my head is busting with information on birds and their behaviours, retail sales, entrepreneurship, business, accounting, management and the list goes on….and on! And there is still so much more to learn!
But I still look for those moments of magic where I learn something about life from these beautiful little creatures who grace us with their presence and mesmerize us with their song and dances!
And the woodpecker again, has not disappointed in teaching me further lessons.
Several weeks ago, a customer came into the store and on her phone carried a picture of a beautiful old cedar tree that was of some age. It also had a sizeable hole that was wrought by a very hungry Pileated Woodpecker, within a couple feet from the base. The hole spanned a good 12 inches and the customer was concerned that that was the end of the beautiful cedar tree. She wondered if her next call was to an arborist to haul it down.
Our landlord Doug McRae (our resident naturalist) happened to wander into the store at this point and looked at the picture and proclaimed the tree the picture of health! And further told our customer that the Pileated Woodpecker had in fact done her and the tree a great favour. In all likelihood, given the size of the hole, the woodpecker had dug out a cache of fat juicy carpenter ants!
If the woodpecker had not come along and bored out those ants from the tree, the tree would have silently become a hollow unstable mass. It would have been the death knell for the tree. Anyone who has dealt with carpenter ants knows that once they sink their teeth into good wood, it’s not long until they’ve completed their meal.
How much of life is like this?
Those things that cause us scars and leave us feeling wounded, upon hindsight, through the lens of gratitude, were actually blessings in disguise? The things that made us tougher, stronger more loving. The things that in the moment caused us pain and grief but with that hindsight made us resilient and more adaptable?
The customer left happy with her news and with a new found respect for a bird she had likely been ready to curse for the destruction of her tree! If I recall she might have even bought some peanuts.
The lessons that the woodpecker brought that day have been mulling around in my head ever since. It’s been a beautiful reminder that those moments or full on days that are hard, may just be rooting out hidden flaws and/or helping me to not have to deal with something that is far worse. Or it’s making me stronger and more resilient. And frankly I’m more than game to become stronger and more resilient. Can’t we all use a bit of this?