Monday, April 29, 2013

Books, Woodpeckers & Cicadas

After ferrying a few small things from beach to Oak Hill, today seemed a good time to begin organizing books for shelving that I hope to do next Saturday and Sunday. The large furniture items will be delivered on Thursday, moved around on Friday to figure out a comfortable arrangement and on the weekend stacks of books juggled and confused during the move will hopefully be sorted, categorized and shelved. Books and bookcases are already in the new house, but filling the cases and then realizing I want to move them to another place along one wall or another would be a foolish mistake. Bookcases lined with 200 books or more do not shift easily.

One of the bookcases will for certain go in the larger bedroom along the wall to the right of the bed. And with that certainty I spent an hour gathering from the stacks of books everywhere all those related to Japan and Japanese studies, books that I want in the bedroom. Hunting through everything on hands and knees, I picked out enough to make a teetering ‘Japan’ stack, carried those to the bookcase and returned to collect another stack. Five trips from one room to the other and the Japan books were looking complete, but each time I looked again to make sure, I turned up several more, most of the time at the very bottom of a stack. This got to be wearing after a while, but finding a particular title was sometimes a cue that a companion volume was still lost in the haphazard stacks. Finally I gave up, realizing that everything will come to light in time.

Sitting now on the screened porch later writing some lines in a journal, the woodpecker furiously hammers away in the camphor tree outside. I imagine that at any minute he is going to drill a hole through the limb and come out the other side. Moving quietly, I step outside to watch for a while and maybe see what he is so hard at work on. But I discover that woodpeckers are similar to cicadas in one sense: they don’t like to be stared at when busy with their wood pecking, just as cicadas when rasping in a tree don’t like observers. One day some years back, walking along a road on the Greek island of Crete, I stopped to admire one large and robust cicada clinging to the branch of a tree. Something made me think the insect would carry on singing-screeching and ignore my nearness, but as soon as I drew near the creature went silent and patiently waited until I had passed on before resuming its song. In the same way, as soon as today’s woodpecker sees me looking up at him, he stops his rat-a-tat-tat and maneuvers to the far side of the limb. Could it be that woodpeckers and cicadas are cousins in shyness?


  1. Looks like a nice sunny room for reading. The Internet all over town has been down since Saturday night. I never realized how much I depend on it to stay informed. Could not even make a Dr. appointment 'cause his was, too. Glad to see the critters haven't carried you off.

  2. Did you know that cicadas make their song by rubbing their wings together? Looks like things are ''coming together".

  3. The stack of books along the wall reminds me of my front bedroom at one time, books stacked and stacked and yadda yadda. A good thing about touching every book you own is that it will reveal things you've overlooked for ages and they will immediately go on one of the various "to read" stacks. Books and the doings of nature, two pretty great things.

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About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America