It's late in the day on a Friday afternoon. The sky is dark with dense black clouds. The air is heavy, almost wet. The woods are cloaked in gloomy shades of gray, the usual birds aren't serenading me with their songs. No chickadee-dee-dee, no warbling of robins. Not even the caw of a crow. There's an unnatural stillness, something oppressive. Something I can't quite put my finger on. I am struck by a sense that something is about to happen.
I know we're expecting severe thunderstorms again. From the looks of the sky, they could start any time now, so I hurry up the steps to the deck. I want to be indoors when they happen. This year the rain has been accompanied by golf ball sized hail. I've seen the damage on cars that size hail creates, I'd prefer not to feel that on my skin.
I'm just putting the key in the lock when the stillness is broken by this:
I know it's right behind me. I whirl around just in time to see a flash of red as he wings his way to the maple tree in my yard. He lights on a branch where I can see him and calls out again.
It's the first time I've gotten a look at him. I can usually hear him tapping, sometimes he does so on my home. I've never managed to see him as clearly as I saw him on Friday afternoon. He's usually just a flash of red against the green of the trees.
He moved back against the tree trunk and I walked through my door just as the first drops of rain fell. No thunder or lightening, just rain and the eerie sound of a Pileated Woodpecker announcing his presence to the other silent residents of the woods. Take heed, I am here, and here I will stay.