Nature’s Etiquette

“Great difficulties may be surmounted by patience and perseverance.”
—Abigail Adams

Nature’s Etiquette

In the quiet of the morning,
the garden dormant this time of year,
life centers around the feeders and the suet cage
where squirrels hang upside down,
back feet splayed out on the bark of the pine tree,
front feet holding steady the suet feeder
for long stretches of time.

Somewhere in the forest the woodpeckers wait.
Their moment at the feeder will come soon, they know,
their patience a valuable lesson to those who watch.
The two downy woodpeckers come first,
their velvety black and white patterned bodies
striking against the stark grayness of winter,
one attaching himself to the bark of the tree
while the other feeds, two front toes facing forward,
two backward in perfect balance.
Time is all his now.

When he leaves, the other comes and feeds
and later the larger, red-headed woodpecker arrives.
With his strong pointed beak, he feeds at the suet,
stiffened tail feathers straight behind him,
a vision in beauty.

After the squirrels, after the woodpeckers,
the garden is silent and calm,
satiety over,
accomplished by patience,
by a soft determination for survival,
a lesson in nature’s etiquette.

© Barbara Flass 2012

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