Holes in the Wall

November 27th, 2019

I could hear the sound coming from the front of the house. It was rhythmic, like somebody was tapping on the wall with a small hammer.

“It must be that damn woodpecker again”, I thought.

I got up from the computer and walked to the front door. As I opened it, I saw a flutter of wings as a small bird flew away from the cedar siding near the front windows of the house.  It was the woodpecker. She was clinging to one of the stalks of the elderberries.

The front of our house is riddled with holes. For some reason, the builder used cedar to make the post that holds up the porch. He also used cedar to surround the big front windows. Back in 1991 that seemed like a really good idea. Now, not so much.

The woodpecker has been attacking the cedar for two years now. She keeps drilling holes in the post and into wood near the windows. I keep filling the holes with wood putty. From a distance it all looks okay. Up close, you can see a variety of mottled colors. Eventually, there will be more wood putty than wood in front of the house.

I have tried to use bad-smelling chemicals to ward off the bird. Nothing seems to work. She keeps coming back. The woodpecker is smart, and has a very strong survival instinct. She is remarkably persistent, actually relentless. I would find that admirable if she wasn’t damaging my home.

I looked at the bird as she looked at me. The woodpecker is quite beautiful. She is mostly white with black wings. She is an amazing creature.

I have thought about killing the bird. I’m not sure how I would do that. I don’t own any guns, and, even if I did, it would be unwise for me to use a firearm in my neighborhood.

Thomas Merton said once that all animals are saints, because they only do what God wants them to do. They cannot sin. I thought about that as I looked at the little bird with the destructive tendencies. The woodpecker is simply doing what woodpeckers are supposed to do. I wish she would do it some place else, but the bird is doing nothing that would justify me killing it. I would feel remorse if I did kill the damn thing. It would be wrong for me to do so.

Eventually, the woodpecker will die. So will I. We will see who goes first.

In the meantime, I will fill holes in the wall.





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