joi, 14 februarie 2008

Urban biocenosis

Almost every morning, before 8:30, I help Marta, our older daughter, to her school, a couple of blocks away from our flat. We cross a boulevard, Camil Ressu, then we go to Marta's school down one alley, between a row of tall housing projects. I usually return home using another alley, next to the first. These two alleys delineate a tiny playing ground between tall buildings, surrounded by trees: ashes, chestnuts, Canadian maples, poplars.

I usually stroll briskly, keeping an alert ear, because of them bloody stray dogs that pester the playground. Thus, this morning I've suddenly heard a sound I did not expect to hear here, in the middle of Bucharest, a tram station away from Dristor.

It is a sound that once heard you cannot mistake: thr-r-r-r-r-r-rr. Fast, sonorous but not shrill or sharp. A sounds of a wooden quality, like listening to an Orthodox monk beating its call wood plank for prayers, but on fast-forward.

I stopped, looked up and thought: "woodpecker".

Woodpecker? What the heck does a woodpecker do here, between them ugly barren housing projects, in the midst of Bucharest?

Then the answer came naturally: you have trees around. Some of them are old. Some of their limbs are dead. There's plenty of food for a woodpecker to be found around here.

With half an eye towards my ankles, to keep them from becoming an easy breakfast, I've started looking around, through the empty branches of the trees around. I've quickly identified the tree from where the sound appeared to come, some 15 meters away.

I looked intently, searching every branch for movement. Nothing. I looked again. Nothing. Then I've thought: perhaps the tallness of the buildings around make the sound echo and the source is somewhere else. I looked therefore at the trees on my right. The second one, a Canadian maple, was bearing fruit. There, on its trunk, movement. My woodpecker. Hurray! Gotcha, baby...

Then, while my woodpecker stood still, the sound again: thr-rr-rr-rr. From my left.

What the heck? There's a gang of woodpeckers astray? We live the Great Woodpecker Invasion? Should we run and take cover, before too late?

I let my first woodpecker be and started looking again, slowly approaching the first tree, an ash with several dead branches.

In the beginning, I saw nothing, while the sound kept thrr-rr-rr-ing constantly, approximately once per minute. Then I found their lair: on one of the lower branches, a central dead stump, bearing the unconformable small round hole.

Then, up in the barren limbs, movement. A gray blur, almost hidden. Then the red speck. Yeah, my woodpecker. Gotcha, baby...

This time it was the right woodpecker, the one making the noises. I've stood for a while watching it, with my head tilted backwards and my neck stretched, enjoying her slow hunting upward the tree.

It was a great way of starting my day.

Two woodpeckers in our neighbourhood. Twenty meters away from a crowded boulevard. Can you imagine?

The conclusion, my dear friends, is simple. Hic et nunc. Here, now. Aici si acum.

We stroll down our daily toll, morose and busy and tired, grumbling about the low quality of urban life and dreaming impossible dreams about living in a idyllic rural cottage, surrounded by unspoiled nature and fully living our lives.

When, in fact, our lives can be as well enjoyed in a big city. The one that we consider barren and polluted and crowded and dirty and spoiled. The one that we have too high expectations from and no consideration for, although it's full of live and opportunities and little daily mysteries.

Just listen for them woodpeckers. They hunt. They thrive. They live.

We should do the same.

3 comentarii:

Anonim spunea...

acu' cateva luni am vazut doua veveritze intr-un copac nu departe de statzia de metrou Brancoveanu.
Frumos, ai zice, numa' ca astea 2 se bateau... Fraaate,pitbullii sunt nishte amatori...

Anonim spunea...


Turambar spunea...

Veveritzele sunt nishte chesti cvasi-urbane, cel putzin in imaginarul nostru stereotipizant. Insa ciocanitori... Pentru mine ciocanitorile are the stuff the woods are made of.

He. Chiar inainte sa plec la birou, uitandu-ma pe fereastra de la sufragerie, cea care da in spatele blocului, la inceputul escarpamentului care coboara spre valea Dambovitzei, am vazut in coroana unui copac de dedesubt (tei, ca sa fiu pedant) un fluturat de aripi. Alta ciocanitoare. O fi fost aceeashi? O fi fost din alt regiment al Marii Invazii de Ciocanitori Intergalactice? Who da heck knows.