Born to Peck

Posted on October 24, 2022


For the last few days, a Red-crested woodpecker has been at the top of the utility pole in front of Life in the Boomer Lane’s house. He has been relentlessly pecking away throughout daylight hours. He does not take breaks. The utility pole, as one might assume, is wood. But the object of the bird’s obsession is a plastic junction box at the top of the pole, a meeting place for all the electrical wires.

LBL’s desk is in view of the pole, right near a door to the porch. The noise coming into the area of the desk is quite loud. Depending on LBL’s state of mind (running the gamut from a call from a grandchild to the latest hard evidence that humanity’s days are numbered), LBL can think of the noise as charming (if misguided) or of having genuine concern for the bird (If he pecks through the plastic, he will explode) or of wishing she had a slingshot and perfect aim. The bird, itself, is oblivious to LBL’s thoughts. It just keeps pecking away.

This morning, LBL decided to stop obsessing about the bird and, instead to think of its activity as a metaphor for something (life, history, love, inflation, whatever). She has come up with the following thoughts:

People are like woodpeckers, born to peck. Throughout humankind, the folks that inhabit said humankind have, on countless occasions, have spent ridiculous amounts of time and energy in fruitful activity. They have also spent the same amount of time and energy on less fruitful and downright dangerous activity.

Civilizations and societies have gone poof by spending a lot of time and energy in cutting down too many trees or planting incorrectly, in order to boost their yield. The American South, in addition to abusing countless humans, abused the soil that supported their economy. They over-planted, year after year. Yields grew smaller and smaller until many plantations were no longer viable, well before the Civil War.

It took over 2300 years to build the Great Wall of China. Up to one million workers reportedly died during the construction. However, in the end, the wall did little to prevent invasions. In the early 13th century, alone, Genghis Khan and his Mongolian army simply stepped over it.

The settlement at Jamestown spent an enormous amount of time and energy trying to survive, while they also made enemies of the Indians who were there already and whose animosity ensured their demise.

Throughout the millennia, countless women have spent time and energy on relationships that consisted solely of a misguided definition of “love” and a pile of red flags.

Napoleon spent an incredible amount of time and effort into a march across Russia but neglected to take the time to check weather reports.

LBL wishes she had not listed inflation at the beginning of this post. But she did and she is stuck with it. Activity to temper inflation runs the gamut of political discourse and involves tremendous time and effort. Yet, inflation rears its ugly head regularly around the world, usually attributed to “they did it” or “situations out of our control.”

A follow up to the woodpecker-on-the-utility-pole: Two days ago, the light on the pole went out. There was no explosion, as LBL had feared. There was no dead woodpecker on the ground. Several hours later, the light went back on. But the woodpecker was gone. LBL believed the light going out was a wake up call to him about the folly of his ways. Or, as most woke humans, that he may have simply tired of the lure of plastic

It turns out, she was wrong on both counts. The next day, in spite of the obvious warning, Mr W. Pecker, like humans on much of the planet, was back at it. Peck, peck, peck.

Posted in: commentary, politics