It's late in the day. I'm standing at the northeast corner admiring our yard. The freshly mulched mounds of earth prepped for planting. Metal borders pounded into the soil, edging the space between meadow and planting beds. Stacks of garden soil resting along the edges, waiting for tomorrow. A crescendo and decrescendo of cedar planks outlining the curve of a path, each hammered into place by hand. The river of Mexican beach pebbles bordered by emerging native plants. I take in the magnificence of my beloved's hardscaped gifts. How he pours sweat and creativity into cultivating beauty in our yard.  What was a weedy lawn when we moved in two years ago is now a water-wise landscape with hand laid architectural details. The rake, the shovel, the sledgehammer, the knife— his worn and heavy tools rest against the porch.

I am standing at the corner taking in this evidence of his love when I hear a rhythmic thudding, a tapping from the trunk of our linden tree. This is a tree that has weathered too many storms. One branch has fallen, leaving a giant scar. Another broke off at the top. Now a snag rises in a rickety fashion above the leafy rest. Upon further investigation, I realize the steady tapping is coming from inside that deadened part of the tree. It is Woodrow, our downy woodpecker friend. We've observed him come and go from our tree, heard him tap and forage various parts of the trunk, watched him enter the holes that he excavated over two seasons.


I shift my attention from my beloved's fine work to the work of this woodpecker. He is hardscaping a home from the inside out, prepping a nesting space for Wilhelmina and their future brood. I desperately wish to peer into the tree trunk to capture a glimpse of his architectural gifts. I imagine his design is more simple but no less magnificent. I imagine him pausing to admire his work, the quiet between taps as he rests his tools. I listen and realize he is as ambitious as my beloved. His pauses are short, his passionate effort seems endless.

I gather the yard tools and push the large broom over the messy sidewalks. Under the linden, mingling with soil and discarded weeds, are bits of bark and a layer of fine wood dust. As I move the debris, I feel moved by this residue of love and hard work. Then, I hear Woodrow again and look up. He is perched on an outside branch of the tree, drumming gently with his beak. But this time it isn't the steady beat of hard work. It is an invitation, a call to his love.

I see my beloved across the yard, wiping his brow with his shirt sleeve. My hands meet my heart and I drum three beats against my chest. He looks over, smiles and walks towards me.