I was headed downstairs to put the dime I’d found in my penny bowl when I noticed that the woodpecker whose been visiting my grape arbor was back.  He likes the fruit that’s accumulated through the fall.  It’s not fit for human consumption so I haven’t minded.

Several of my friends have told me I should.  Woodpeckers are nuisance birds they say.  Don’t let him hang around.  The bird store said the same thing and warned me he’d destroy our stucco.  I laughed thinking he’d prefer logs to masonry.  Then I remembered the stucco repair that had to be done a couple years back.

I asked the bird store folks how to get rid of him and they said I should put my birdfeeder back up.  Woodpeckers don’t like other birds they said.  I bought some seed and did just that.  It didn’t work.  Instead he brought a friend with him and they ate the grapes while all the other birds feasted at the feeder.  Clearly, the bird store just wanted me to leave with a bushel of seed—naïve city girl that I am.

At yoga I mentioned the bird habitat I’ve unwittingly set up and all the nature loving folks there said I needed to run the woodpecker off.  They went so far as to say I should shoot it.  I was shocked.  I didn’t think that as a very Zen-like attitude.

I politely told them I couldn’t handle shooting a bird and even if I could I didn’t have anything to shoot it with. My closest friend in the group Rick offered to loan me a pellet gun.  I passed telling him I’d just Woody 2peacefully coexist with the bird.

With the dime still in my hand I stopped for a few minutes and watched this bird I’ve grown so comfortable with nibble his way through the vines.  The dime was cold.  I’d found it in a pool of slush in the grocery store parking lot.  I spotted it while talking to my Mom.  I’d snuck out of the house to call her.  I was asking her for prayer and didn’t want the boys to overhear me.

One of them was the topic of our conversation.  The young adult years are not an easy stage of life for anyone and I’m learning that autistics get hit harder.  A man I know that works with young adults described it as confusion on steroids—everything is amplified.

I was worried sick when I called.  The last few days had been especially hard and I was concerned that my little boy who is anything but little, and too old to be called a boy, had reached his breaking point.

With the dime in hand I remembered exactly what she said when I picked it up, “Don’t worry honey, we’ll get through this.  We’ll get through this.”  While the penny chilled my hand she was trying to warm my heart.

Staring at the bird I couldn’t help but think about how the worry was eating away at me like the woodpecker my arbor.  It’s just pecking, pecking, pecking like the ultimate nuisance.  I started to cry and then I heard my friend Rick’s voice say, “Shoot it!”

My tears stopped at the thought and before I knew it I went flying down the stairs, out the back door, and started yelling at the bird, “shoo-shoo-get out of here-get out of here!”  Buddy started barking and the neighbor’s dogs joined in.  Birds all over our yard went flying like bats out of hell to get the heck away from me.  My neighbor below me lowered his shade with a concerned look.  I started laughing my head off.  I didn’t care.  That bird needed to go and so did my worry.

The Bible says that if we resist the enemy he will flee from us.  I know this and yet it’ amazing how often I acquiesce to coexisting with a force that is perfectly willing to peck to me to death one thought at a time.  Even worse when I see the worry for what it is—a destructive force, I often give in to it saying it’s natural for a mother.  I treat worry like it’s just a part of God’s creation when it’s not.

My stand-off with the woodpecker was overdue.  I needed to be reminded that with God’s spirit in me I can run-off any thoughts that become a nuisance.  I might not be able to stop them from landing but I don’t have to live with them.

I haven’t seen the woodpecker today but I have a hunch he’ll be back.  Worry always feeds off whatever it can find and life, like my arbor, tends to create a feast of opportunity.  But armed with a little more confidence maybe I’ll be quicker to shoo it away.  A pellet gun really isn’t my style.


  1. Inspiring! I love it!

  2. Thanks, Karen…for the much needed thoughts on “worry”.

    I have an aging sticky note on my condo frig door that reads: “Worry doesn’t change outcome!”. It was left there some 3+ years ago by my daughter’s wise partner, John…a mental health therapist. Left there and long forgotten…by him. I don’t dare take it down as it’s the bucket of cold water I need to be tossed in my face more often than I’d like to admit.

  3. Wow, did I need to read this today!!!!! Thanks Karen for sharing your life, loving nature and wisdom with us!


  4. Well said! Well said! And your mother is right, we will get through this!!

  5. I like your piece. Interesting story.

    Place a suet woodpecker feeder near the outside of your home. Woodpeckers like to feed on suet, which is made from the fat of a cow and is available for purchase at wild bird or pet stores. Hang the feeder well away from the ground so the suet doesn’t get eaten by other creatures.
    Place the feeder close to the place on your home where the woodpeckers tend to drum. They’ll notice the suet and start feeding there instead.
    Gradually move the feeder away from your home, a few feet each day, until it’s well away from your house. Hopefully you will have trained the woodpeckers to feed on the suet, rather than drumming on your house.
    Suet can melt in hot weather and coat birds’ wings, damaging their plumage. Don’t use suet during the hottest days of summer.
    Keep the suet available throughout the fall, winter and spring months, when food is most scarce.

  6. Karen, the woodpecker may be offering you something to think about. Native Americans see woodpeckers (and other creatures) connections to God. Maybe that bird is a gift, and you might want to consider it in a different light.
    PS – I could be wrong, but I think it’s a Federal crime to kill a woodpecker.

    • Julia…I think the woodpecker is a gift in the sense that it’s helped me see how fear can peck away at me. As my blog suggests I love pennies but for years now birds have been another way God speaks to me so the woodpecker is really more my friend than foe. I could be wrong too, but like you I’ve heard it’s a Federal crime to kill a woodpecker. I wouldn’t consider that anyway so not to worry the only thing I want to put to death is my worry. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

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