An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of December 25, 2016
Issued from Rancho Regenesis near Ek Balam ruins 20kms north of Valladolid, Yucat√°n, Mexico

WOODPECKER SOLSTICE

This week at dawn as my campfire breakfast stewed, sometimes there came a hollow-sounding drumming from way in the woods. The drumming came in irregularly and somewhat widely spaced phrases lasting about two seconds long. Each phrase consisted of a few sharp blows against a large, dead tree trunk: PopoPOH, punk! punk! It was the Lineated Woodpecker, similar to the North's Pileated and, like it, a shy, deep woods dweller, one who flies with heavy wingbeats and meaningful swoops and glidings.

When the stew starts bubbling, it's signaling that it's cooked enough for me to stir in the eggs, making it a kid of thickish, herby eggdrop soup. The woodpecker's drumming also is a signaling, a message issued in hard, no-nonsense terms, even a kind of challenge, saying, "If you hear this, you're in my territory, and I'm here to defend it."

This week's Winter Solstice mornings when more steam than smoke swirled up from the campfire, and the woods lay in fog, the Lineated Woodpecker's certainty about his claim and his artistry in declaring it thrilled me, nourished me no less generously than did the stew. For, something in me craves the definitive, a certainty to things, though a life's experience has taught that nearly all is shifting illusion and in-between states of being. Really, there's very little in a normal day of living that's absolutely believable. How comforting it would be if an authoritative voice in the sky should speak so all could hear and understand, saying exactly the way things should be: PopoPOH, punk! punk!

So, that's why this week was special, because something like that voice in the sky actually happened. The Earth itself, with the sky's complicity, signaled to us a mighty and beautiful message in delivery not unlike popoPOH, punk! punk!. The message was:

"At this precise moment the Earth's most majestic natural cycle ends and a new one begins. At this very point, in the Northern Hemisphere, the days start getting longer again -- shorter in the Southern Hemisphere -- and this will go on for half a year, until the day length changes direction again, and then, one year from this moment, the whole cycle will repeat."

So, all this next year's weather, its ebbs and flows of radiant solar energy and all attendant Earthly highlightings and shadowings, all the cycles of all living things dependent on sunlight and weather, all start on their new path... now! PopoPOH, punk! punk!

PopoPOH, punk! punk! is the sound of the whole Earth changing gears.

PopoPOH, punk! punk! is the Earth's promise that during the upcoming year the most critical needs of us living things will be met by a planetary biosphere agreeing to do what it's always done, which is to provide its living things with breathable air, drinkable water, and rich soil for growing food -- if only we will not destroy it.

PopoPOH, punk! punk!