Warm greeting from a cold woodpecker

It was a dark and stormy night. The ferries weren’t running. We were intending on getting home after a rather harrowing* four day visit to family in Victoria. Intentions mean nothing in bad weather if you live OTG. We stayed, instead, at MoneyPenny’s B&B (fantastic) in Campbell River and weathered the storm like city-folk. Wine and take-out as modest compensation.

Today (the next day) was still blustery but more to our liking and off we went. The car was heavily laden with luggage, supplies and, of course, a few building materials. Loaded the boat to the gunwales and slogged our way home over the still rumbling seas. But the storm was a Sou-easter and our landing is in the lee of the land so we were fine. The funicular went down, the supplies went on and, after docking the boat, we moved everything uphill and started to unload. We got home around 11:00. Sal is still putting stuff away now at 3:00pm.

Part of the reason for so long a process is that we often will stop and have a cuppa tea and light the woodstove. I was stacking some scotch (natch) in the closet when Sal said rather calmly, “Could I get a hand over here?”

I stopped what I was doing and attended to her. “S’up?”

“There’s a woodpecker in the stove!”

Our woodstove has a long stove-pipe. Over 16 feet long. It has a dog’s leg bend near the top. The top section is eight feet or so with the majority of it outside – of course. The top is covered by a chimney-top. Woody must have forced himself in a rather small-ish opening at the top, fluttered and fell down the stove-pipe and, amazingly, landed safely on top of the baffle at the top of the burn-box. There is not much room between the baffle and beginning of the stovepipe….I am guessing maybe 1.5 inches.

Not content with that particular location, Woody somehow scrambled along the baffle and fell into the larger stove area where he remained until Sal discovered him.

We opened the door, Woody flew around the room a bit and then smacked his fine self into a window. He was a bit stunned (but he is a woodpecker, after all. He has a hard head). I covered him with a towel, we slowly opened the window and Woody fell out of it and flew away.

Woody is our second such guest. A couple years ago we had a squirrel. Same process. Same window.

Life OTG, eh?

*I said ‘rather harrowing’ not because ‘going urban’ was any worse than usual this time but mostly because we are even less accustomed to the madness that passes for modern life these days. You know the drill……it took twenty minutes to drive four blocks due to heavy traffic, had to go to the drugstore three times to pick up a bottle of Rx eyedrops (first delay: was ‘our systems are down’, second delay: one untrained young clerk with twenty people in line = one hour wait. Third time we were lucky: only took twenty minutes!). And so it went. Traffic. Line-ups, malls, parking, insane prices…..surrounding you everywhere you look is junque and poor-quality crap complete with really bad service. I am literally incapable of dealing with it all anymore. Sal often makes me wait in the car. I sit there looking at other angry old guys waiting in their car.

Here’s an interesting note: everywhere there are HELP WANTED signs. Everywhere! My son explained part of the problem is the housing crisis. Where he works, they have hired several workers from out-of-town who start their first month living in a hotel or motel. By the third month, they decide that finding an affordable decent place to rent is too impossible and they resign and go home. These are folks making $60+ to $100K a year! They are young, but have no down payment and rents are too high to pay even IF they can find a place! That’s crazy!

The good news? We are home. It is fantastic. I used to swear I would never leave here again. Sal would subsequently make me go somewhere horrible but has recently spaced out my traveling obligations to once every four months. This time, when we got home, she said, “I never want to leave here again.” Personal growth is a wonderful thing to witness.

8 thoughts on “Warm greeting from a cold woodpecker

  1. This post I may concur with more than any other of your’s JD, and I sooo often agree wholeheartedly with you. It is fair drudgery to leave (other than the grand scenery) and oh so costly and troublesome to go to town, including the BIG in-the-car puking dog or the insane two bear dogs (hard to find baby sitters out here!). And I find ‘it smells there’, not good or better, even tho it’s a very nice town. I also find that the cost of pretty much EVERYTHING has gone into the Stratosphere. So I just don’t want to go, and if it wasn’t for the toys and supplies I need for projects I wish to do, or food… yes, sometimes we seem to need food… and alcohol. Yes, plenty of alcohol. Espec after we return from town. Mass quantities of alcohol is required. I simply wouldn’t go to town. I wouldn’t be missed and I’d be well chuffed! Fortunately, now, it rains and or blows hard most of the time so we ‘can’t’ go to town. Who HOO, that suits Me just fine, so unless we’re traveling faaar away (not done that yet from here) or getting some special goodies, I’m gonna stay right here. At HOME.
    And the World will be all the better for it!


    • “We wouldn’t be missed”….too true. I have friends. I have family. I can even still MAKE friends….but…truth be told….I am NOT needed or necessary to anyone anymore (maybe my grandkids but they are still so young every time they see me we need to get reacquainted). It sounds limiting but I think (except for grandkids) I could be content simply doing ‘my thing’ out here for the rest of my life. There may eventually be toooooo many sheds but that is a small price to pay for contentedness.
      I do not think I am a hermit…….there are other OTG’ers out here and remember, I still have six readers and they count as human contact (kinda) so long as they comment. And so long as Sal is here, I am not a loner. I think this is the right way to live and the longer I am here, the more right it is!


  2. Strange how quickly things can change. If I remember well, pre-Covid you had to make a shopping run like what…every 2 or 3 weeks (not Victoria I guess, but still a shopping run). Now it’s down to once every 4 months and that’s even out of your comfort zone. I guess we are all affected (emotionally) to the current situation. It seems more and more people are “lost” and don’t know which direction to take any more (so maybe your cry “GET OUT” will be heard more and faster now).
    A part is also perception of course, when we visited Victoria 3 years ago, to us it seemed like a small, quiet town. yes there was traffic, but to our perception, not that busy and hectic (that was of course before we explored the island further). I remember that after we spend 1 week on Vancouver Island, we went back to the mainland and finally ended up in Vancouver. And although Vancouver had been on my bucket list for like 25 years, after 4 days I said to my wife : “for sure we will come back to BC, but only to spend as much time faaaaaaar aay from Vancouver, been there, seen that, but the islands are so much more relaxed, beautiful…who wants to spend/lose any time in a city).
    Shortages…there seems to be a shortage now of about everything. I read this week that the Chinese are buying EVERYTHING they can get their hands on in “raw materials”. Factories are shutting down in Belgium because there is a shortage of things like….sugar….not speaking about steel,aluminium,building materials, no more blue paint because of lack of Kobalt, no more microchips, so no more car, trucks, phones, computers,….You name it, and it’s not available any more. Chinese are even buying up ALL the oak in Europe, paying 50% premium, so local mills have to close down because they can not compete with the chinese. Then oak is shipped to change, they make crappy furniture out of it and then sell oak furniture to Europe at crazy prices.
    Is there a chinese strategy behind all of this? Create instability on every market, buy up all raw materials so we are dependent even more on them? Where is this lack of “everything” coming from? More demand? Guess not? Average annual gas bill went up last months to +2000€/family. Average electricity bill average +1200€/family….crazy times for sure!
    I always thought Trump was crazy, but ow “America first” does not sound that crazy anymore (of course to be changed to “Europe first” 😉
    But honestly, should we not stop this “globalisation”?
    Isn’t it crazy that we (Canad,US, Europe) are depending on the chinese industry for about everything? We even can’t make basic things like mouthmasks!?!?
    There are plans now to build again a microchip industry in US and Europe, to be less dependent on China, but that will take at least a decade
    And buying all the raw materials, we should stop that and protect our own industries!
    Maybe get Trump back :-)?

    And same shortage over here from workforce, shops literally have to close extra days because they can not find any staff….


    • Are you saying that a bird trapped in a man-made hell (for him) and lacking the ability to do much about it prompted something in you, Wim? Imagine that. Of course the woodpecker story prompted feelings – poor wild bird somehow lost his ability to fly away. THAT is a fear for all of us. And that is why I say, “Get Out!”

      Well, Trump/USA first is not a new thing. The US has always put themselves first. They negotiate from bully-power not mutual interest. Trump said it out loud but that kind of thinking is prevalent in the US. It is not a community-nation that are all in this together – not even the states themselves. Me First is the real mantra!

      I do believe the Chinese have stepped up their antipathy and passive aggression to the West but they are swimming in the same leaky, polluted pool. They are suffering now, too. So, they are part of the problem but I do not think it is any more of a plot by them than climate change. The fault is wrong-headed thinking in a world too small for that kind of error anymore. I.e. We were ‘global warming 100 years ago but the earth’s oceans absorbed it and the carbon. But NOW the oceans are incapable of compensating for our mistakes. So we are feeling the pain we have been inflicting unknowingly for a long time. The planet is like the fatigued and exasperated parent that can no longer deal with their dysfunctional (addicted, delinquent, etc.) children.

      I confess that when I say “Get Out! Get Out NOW!” I really mean it but I do not know how you get out far enough and still be prepared enough to avoid the outcome of a world hell-bent on destroying itself. A New Yorker may amongst the first to fall and die and we may even be amongst the last but course-failure is inevitable. It will all crash.

      Does that actually mean death-by-dysfunction? I dunno……but it is already meaning precisely that in the natural world. It is pointing and headed that way.

      But globalization re-established on the RIGHT and BALANCED path is the only possible way to survivability in my opinion. Globalization made us vulnerable out of laziness and elitism but globalization (world teamwork) would be a good thing right about now.


      • Now, now……do not forget – the woodpecker lived to fly away. He is fine. But Wim and billions of urbans are starting to feel the heat in the stove. They may NOT be able to fly away. It is eminently sane to make the parallel because there really is a parallel.


        • Globalisation, balanced, indeed is the solution to the global warming and global cooperation will be the only solution to stop us from destroying our planet and stop global warming. But still, politicians are too short sighted. There is a new law now in Belgium that forbids us to install a new oil or gas fired heating stove. Only heat exchangers are allowed. Poloticians claim that these heat exchangers are 100% green because they do not burn any fossil fuel. BUT…..politicians also decided that we will close all nuclear power plants in Belgium by 2025….and we don’t have enough green alternatives (we are a small country, remember). So we will have to rely on new-to be built huge gas fired power plants to produce enough electricity to prevent black-outs when there is no sun and no wind blowing. So guess where the electricity is coming from to supply all these heat exchangers??? How stupid can you be. But smart as they are, it is WE who will be paying for this “green” transition. WE will have to pay for the heat exchanger, and WE will eventually pay for the over-subsidised gas fired power plants! And this list goes on and on…


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