Alive and Cacklin’

April 5, 2013

My old friend, going back 6 years.

My old friend, going back 6 years.

I have to admit, I had other things on my mind.

A beautiful spring day, sunshine angling with soft morning light…

I just nailed the photo of our Touring Silk that I had been hoping for.

Now it was time to get into work.

I should have known, really, all the signs were there.

When I rolled down to the Bike Path along the Willamette River, another old friend [or maybe blood relative of my old friend] stood like a sentry watching over my entry to my favorite ride.

An osprey, with its bright white breast sandwiched by dark black wings perched atop an ash, just along the Canoe Canal. The sun illuminating its breast like a spotlight.

It’s his spot, one he has returned to time and again in the past three years. It’s only a few hundred yards from the wire tower that held an Osprey nest a few years ago, before a wicked spring storm blew it off to a 100-foot crash in the brush.

Somehow they managed to get the young Ospreys over to a makeshift nest in a small stand of trees, building the new nest around the survivors.

Since then, the ash has been the lookout perch.

The blue heron nests farther up the bike path were quiet. I had seen them building the nests a few weeks ago. I hope to hear the clacking of blue heron chicks snapping their bills together, calling for food, sometime in the near the future.

Yes, I saw those hints. But the photo opportunity had garnered my attention.

I snapped my photos, and began a more spirited ride toward work.

Once again, riding along the banks of the Willamette, where my buddy has returned each spring for most of the past six years.

Last year, I feared the worse since I hadn’t seen him in two years.

But we had a reunion of sorts.

While he didn’t greet me with his usual cackle, I was pretty sure it was him.

Six years ago he first drew my attention by blasting his call to me each time I passed.

I’d stop and watch countless others pass by without a peep from him.

Each year he’d buoy my spirits, catching me off guard with his “HELLO!”

It’s the moment each year when he slaps me awake from my winter doldrums, and helps me become aware again.

Suddenly I see everything. Hear everything.

The woodpecker hammering on a traffic sign, unaware his chance of penetrating the metal are very slim. A true to life Woody Woodpecker, making me laugh as loudly as the cartoon version ever did.

The squirrels who seem to pause a little longer as they dart out in front of me, freeze, curl their tail, then disappear back from where they came.

In any event, thanks to the osprey and herons, I was a little more alert than usual. Still, it’s been three years since he called to me.

Then, he did it. He blasted out his call.

I stopped and saw him, grand as ever, pecking on the same woodpile as last year.

He had a companion. He watched me as she pecked a bit, and disappeared behind a shrub. I snapped a photo or two. Said hi.

See you in the fall.

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