Many of you know that I tend to think of a sighting in nature as a “sign” of something. Often, after spotting some new animal, bird or reptilian, I go running to the house and get on the computer to investigate just what the presence of this life form might mean. And, I have also mentioned that I get side-tracked all of the time with nature. I might spot a bird or an animal down in the canyon or through the kitchen window, and scurry out with my camera, hoping for a closer view of the critter. Tasks and projects for the day lay in wait, while I venture off to answer a call from the woodlands!
Last week, I was coming up to the house from the canyon, having just had a visit with Daisy deer (who by the way, is much improved with her eye condition), when I heard a loud drumming noise. I had heard this before, but never could make out the source, though I had a feeling it was an elusive pileated woodpecker. The pileated is not usually seen in this part of Oklahoma, but rather in the southeastern part of the state where the region is heavily wooded. Still, in 2009, FD managed to photograph a male pileated woodpecker in our woods. And the drumming sound I was hearing now was so loud it could only be this particular species.
I kept listening and, sure enough, finally spotted the flaming red head of the woodpecker in the trees at the top of the slope. I ran inside the house to fetch my camera, ultimately deciding the best shots could be taken from the kitchen window. My subject was not all that cooperative, but I still managed a few decent photographs, despite it hopping all around the tree trunk pecking for food.
After getting all the shots I could manage, I researched the habits and calls of the pileated woodpecker online and discovered that this was a female. Since I had heard this loud drumming sound in the woods over the past several years, I wondered if perhaps the pileated woodpecker had expanded its territory further west to our part of the state. Whatever the reason, I was excited to see this large, attractive bird in our woodlands.
As I continued my research, I looked for possible explanations for the appearance of this large woodpecker along my path. What did nature say about this intriguing specimen? I finally settled on a lovely webpage, “Woodpecker Medicine“, that helped me have a better understanding of my new friend.
I was first intrigued when I read, “Woodpecker is not only a medicine someone can carry, it is a Native American birth totem too. A WoodPecker (June 21 – July 21) birth totem is not the same thing as a spiritual totem or having a particular animal as a spirit guide. Those relationships are purely spiritual in nature. If WoodPecker is your birth totem, the animal acts as a teacher along your path specifically for spiritual understanding and growth. In other words, it is what you came here to learn!” Well, this was interesting. My birthday fell into the period designated. And yes, I seemed to be learning, but aren’t we all?
“Their flight patterns are unique. Woodpeckers fly up, coast down then fly upwards again. Those with this totem often find that their path in life will not always conform to society’s standards and that their personal unique rhythm needs to be honored. Woodpeckers teach us to honor our personal truth and move through life with perseverance and inner strength. By staying grounded in our pursuits our goals can be obtained.” Hmm, I always did consider myself an oddball, and never felt like conforming to society’s expectations and standards. I just did not seem to fit in. I often had difficulty finding friends who I felt respected my personal truth and perseverance in life. Most of the time people tried to tell me what to do. I would find myself unsure about how to proceed, or questioning my decision to follow my own path.
“Woodpecker speaks of not being hard-headed because they are able to use their beak to peck at trees.” Guilty as charged. I have been known to be hard-headed and I did sometimes use my beak to make a point! Many times a loud voice was the only way I felt I could get people to listen to me, and not run all over me. Of course, that sometimes caused me to look like I had lost my mind or my temper.
“Woodpecker is telling us that even if something seems difficult to do, not to give up. To do what works, even if it is unconventional. To set your own pace, your own rhythm. This totem is the power of rhythm and determination.” Well, did that ever speak to me! Once again, I had been struggling with balancing too many projects and finding very little personal time. Writing my “Daisy” book generally overwhelmed me. It ended up taking a back seat to everything else – because it was just too hard to proceed with organizing my thoughts and finding quiet time. I could barely keep up with this blog and my daily routine. I spent so much time hacking away at it a little bit here and there that I was not enjoying anything I was doing.
I thought of my friend Mockingbird, (“The Presence of Mockingbird”) and his message to sing my own song. Now the pileated woodpecker, in all of her majesty and flamboyance, had arrived to tell me to set my own pace and rhythm, to be unconventional, and to be determined.
Just as the birds seem to bring signs of the spring season, of new life and hope, they also teach us about the perseverance and determination of daily life. We all walk to the beat of a different drum, and isn’t that a wonderful thing?
© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…