Saturday, April 30, 2011

Porcupine Redux

When I looked outside this morning, it was evident that the porcupine had been about.  Carefully skirting the pieces of salted apple leading up to the trap, he had walked around the trap, ignored the apples within, and taken several sizable chunks out of the garage post.

With so many trees around, what is it about the garage post that he likes so much? 

In the basement, the baby hens are prospering, sprouting real feathers at the tips of their little wings.  They have warmth, food, and water.  They are certainly not stressed.  But I cannot help thinking how much more interesting their life would be--and how much smarter they would turn out--if they could toddle around on the grass behind their mother as she pointed out a bug here, a nice weed there, and instructed them from dawn to dusk on the basics of being a chicken.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Porcupine, Continued

Two nights ago, I saw him.  I was driving the truck up the driveway after dinner out with a friend, and there he was, glued to the post between the two garage doors, chewing away.

My husband has been repainting the bottom of that post, then covering it with wire mesh, for the last couple of years.  And now the beast was standing on his hind legs and  gnawing on the unprotected wood above the mesh.

I shined the brights right at him, but he continued to chew.  Eventually, he turned his head slowly and looked in my direction.  This guy was nothing like Beatrix Potter's Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, who wore an apron and a frilled cap, and was a laundress.  (In fact, Mrs. T. was a hedgehog rather than a porcupine.)  Our porcupine wore a face full of gray whiskers, and an aggrieved look.  It took him a few seconds to digest the circumstances before he lumbered off with an opposum-like waddle in the direction of the woods.

I must confess that in those few seconds, I had a fantasy of gunning the engine and running him over....

Instead, tonight, having consulted  the WWW, we set out a humane trap baited with chunks of raw apple dipped in salt.  With luck, he'll be waiting for us in the morning with a bellyful of salty apple and we'll put him in the car and relocate him to a stretch of woods somewhere.

Then we'll go back home and repaint the garage post, and hope that our porcupine was a bachelor.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Came back from Rutland with what looked like a Happy Meals box containing eight hen chicks, all of them small enough to fit inside an egg carton.

Like everything else these days, the choice of chicks was fraught with environmental repercussions.  The super-green, ultra-local way would have been to have them fathered by my very own rooster and hatched by one of my very own hens, but my vow of chicken celibacy made that impossible.  The next holiest option would have been to buy the chicks at one of the "swaps" held by the Vermont Bird Fanciers Club.  These chicks are locally hatched by chicken aficionados, and the money you pay for them stays right here, where it's needed.  But we were away when the most recent swap was held, and I didn't want to wait for the next one.

So I took the least holy, most convenient option (though it's still somewhat purer than buying supermarket eggs):  I bought my chicks at a chain farm-supply store, which buys them by the hundreds from hatcheries in Iowa and then sells them to the public, sort of the way Home Depot imports lettuce seedlings from Alabama.

The second environmental issue at stake was which breed of chick to purchase.  The chicken world is divided between "heritage breeds" and "sex-linked hybrids."  The latter are the fairly recent result of hybridization.  They are called "sex-linked" because males and females can be distinguished at birth by the color of their down, and the hens when they reach puberty will lay a big brown egg a day through cold and heat and all kinds of chicken stress.  The "heritage breeds" spring from the backyard flocks of yore that were the farm wife's pride.  They are charming and picturesque and offer genetic diversity.  They will lay some eggs, too, if conditions are right.

My present flock is composed entirely of heritage chickens:  three Buff Orpingtons (the color and shape of a well-risen souffle), one Barred Rock (white and black stripes, bright red comb), and two New Hampshire Reds (red).  But my chicken history also includes experience with sex-linked hybrids, and I'm sorry to say that their laying talents far outstrip those of their heritage sisters.

So as I stood over the vats filled with dozens of what looked like peeping eggs on legs, I had a choice to make:  charm and genetic diversity, or sheer egg-laying power? 

In the end, I compromised:  two Rhode Island Reds for charm, then three Red-Star hybrids and three Black-Star hybrids for those big brown eggs.

At the moment they're in the basement, in a galvanized metal tub with a mattress of wood shavings, a waterer filled with sugar water (for the first day only), a feeder full of tiny feed for their tiny beaks, and a mother-surrogate heat lamp.  They figured out about the food and drink right away, and they're not cheeping loudly, which is good, because cheeping is a sign of distress.  They still have that disconcerting newborn habit of falling asleep and collapsing in mid-stride, which used to send me into a panic when I was a novice chick handler.

I've been talking to them quietly, letting them eat out of my hand.  Like dogs, they like having their chest scratched.  And it's hard to stop touching that heavenly fluff--lighter than velvet, more substantial than dandelion down--as I try and fail to imagine how on earth an egg yolk turned into that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Suddenly It's Summer

I blinked and the season changed from deep winter to 84F in the north side of the house.  Sweat was pouring into my eyes as I planted peas this morning--these are not optimal conditions for peas, who can deal with frost but hate the heat as much as I do. 

The garden is almost all in.  The southern transplants that I put in during the gale are looking great, thanks to the non-stop downpours.  The spinach I planted in two feet of snow last month is up, but if this weather keeps up it'll bolt before we can eat it.  Ditto for the lettuce.

In ornamental news, the plants that wintered indoors--zonal and scented geraniums, and a fairly sizable rosemary bush--are now outside.  I could practically hear the rosemary sigh as it fluffed itself out in the sun.  Some pulsatillas by the back door have put out their purple crocus-like flowers.  Other than that, nothing is blooming yet, unless you count the algae in the pond, which are putting on a magnificent show.

I guess what the old timers say about snow--that it's good for plants--is true.  Despite this long, cold winter, the third snowiest on record, I don't think I've lost a single plant.  The lilacs, including the one that was gnawed almost to death by our rabbit, are loaded with buds.  The lavender bushes, the climbing roses (also decimated by the rabbit), the giant hostas all prospered under that snowy duvet.

We're going shopping to the big city of Rutland (pop. 17,292) tomorrow, and I'm excited.  Here is my list:

16 broccoli transplants
8 big bags of mulch
dog food
laying pellets (for the hens)
a Havahart trap for the porcupine that's been eating our house (literally).  (Not sure what we'll do if we catch him.)
6--or maybe 8?--baby chicks!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Southern Transplants

"You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March."  (Robert Frost, "Two Tramps In Mud Time")

Frost would be a neighbor if he were still alive, and he knew our weather well. 

When a friend and I drove almost an hour to the nearest Home Depot a week ago, a cloud had come over the sunlit arch and a wind was raging off the frozen peaks, and it definitely felt like March. 

The nurseries around here don't even open until the beginning of May.  But my friend and I were looking for early vegetable transplants--crops that will withstand almost anything, such as lettuce, broccoli, and kale--and she knew that Home Depot sells these plants before anybody else.

We drove up in a freezing gale and there they were, on the bare parking lot, racks and racks of baby plants.  The cool-season veggies huddled in their plastic pots and did their best to survive.  But the sad legions of young tomatoes, peppers and eggplants drooped and blackened and perished under the sleet.  What were these semi-tropical imports doing in a Vermont near-blizzard?  Even the most novice flatlander knows that you don't even think about putting out tomatoes until Memorial Day.

My friend and I loaded our carts with flats of blizzard-worthy transplants, and rushed shivering inside the store to check out, past banks of orchids and racks of organic seeds.  On the way out to the car, we spread our coats over the little plants to keep them warm.

As soon as the gale ceased, I put my veggies in the ground.  Buttercrunch and red-leaf lettuce, Packman broccoli, curly kale--just your run-of-the-mill cool-season standbys.  As I tucked each fragile plantlet into the wet ground, I mumbled a little valedictory, "Live well and prosper;  root deep and flourish," and so on.  If you were sticking infant plantlets into the half-frozen dirt and leaving them there to try their luck overnight, you'd be whispering encouragements too.

I was halfway through my transplanting when I noticed a label on the seedling containers.  It said "Union Springs, Alabama."  That is where my lettuce, broccoli and kale had come from, a semi-tropical land where spring was old news, mockingbirds were in full cry, dogwoods and azaleas were beginning to brown at the edges, and it was past time to set out peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants.

What was Home Depot thinking of?  Do they really have a single date on which, oblivious to local temperatures, they blanket the nation with vegetable transplants, from Florida to Alaska and Maine to California?  Does the hope that somebody in Vermont will buy those dead tomato plants justify the investment in shipping them there?

So much for my "localvore" commitment.  A couple of weeks from now, with every crunch of my early salads I will remember Union Springs, Alabama, a settlement on land extorted from the Creek Indians, a town whose name has nothing to do with the fight against slavery, where vegetables are grown for export to near-arctic zones.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Pause In My Posting

The CFS gods have been upon me for a while, and that is why I haven't been posting.  And later this week I'm going out of town, which will prolong my silence.  I hope to resume my writing here when I return.  Meanwhile, I thank all of you for all the posts you've read and all the comments you've written--you are such good company.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Real Local

Yesterday our micro-village held a pork roast and silent auction to benefit the owners of the country store that burned to the ground three weeks ago

It was by far the largest gathering I've witnessed in Vermont.  In the wedge-shaped parking lot in front of the fire hall, dozens stood in line to buy meal tickets.  There was a huge line to get food, a line in front of the baked-goods stall, and the auction room was so packed you could barely get around.

I greeted the people who were selling tickets, serving food, cutting meat, selling cookies, manning the auction.  I saw lots of people I recognized, and lots fewer whose names I could recall (I have a terrible time with names).  I did not speak to the honorees or to their surviving dog, Molly.  I figured they wouldn't remember me--we were not assiduous patrons of their store, since it stood in the opposite direction of our usual shopping expeditions--and they were probably worn out with greeting and thanking.   

Instead, I sat under a tent and ate the piles of food that had been put on my plate, nibbled cubes of Consider Bardwell cheese, drank a cola for the first time in years, and breathed in the barbecue fumes, the sudden summer air, and the feeling that something of real importance was taking place. 

Obviously, people showed up to support the store owners and encourage them to build again.  But yesterday's crowds could not possibly have consisted only of friends and clients of the owners, or of friends of their friends and clients, or of the entire population of the micro village.  No, those crowds came from other places, other villages with their own little, threatened stores.  And they came not only to help these particular owners, but in affirmation of the physical, social and even spiritual importance of these tiny businesses that are hanging on by a thread even while they anchor us to the "local."

When I moved here six years ago from a land of malls and superstores, the idea of supporting local cheese makers, potters, bread bakers, oil painters, glass blowers, goat farmers, and sellers of maple syrup and quarts of 2% milk had never crossed my mind.  Now, thanks to my friends and neighbors, the real meaning of  "local" has finally taken root in my brain, and in my heart.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Facebook And Civil Discourse

I have a Facebook "friend" whose political views are the exact opposite of mine.  (How we became "friends" is irrelevant here.)  Every few days she posts a video or a link to some TV commentator, talk-show host, evangelist preacher, or what have you making accusations, sarcastic remarks about, or fun of Obama, Mrs. Obama, Nancy Pelosi (oh, how they hate her!), and other liberals.

I never click on the links, but I cannot help reading the first few sentences.  And I get mad--furious, in fact.  I begin to plot ways to discredit, dismantle, and utterly ruin her worldview and that of her fellow conservatives and members of the R party.  To make things worse, I imagine the reactions of this woman's fellow conservatives who are reading these links and getting a jolly laugh plus a heady hit of affirmation with every one, thus making escalating numbers of liberals like me angrier and angrier.

On the other hand, my in-box is regularly filled with status updates from friends whose liberal views I share, and who can be counted on every day to provide links to diatribes against and comedy bits about those benighted conservatives and their absurd causes.  I seldom click on these links, but I do read the first lines, and I feel affirmed and supported and confirmed as a member of what is clearly the smarter, more ethical side of the political divide.  I imagine that my fellow liberals get the same warm feelings when they read these messages, and conservatives who stumble upon them are enraged by them.

Multiply this effect by the millions of status updates and hits on Facebook every day, and is it any wonder that Congress cannot agree on a budget?

The thing is, if my conservative friend had to come up with these rants and sarcasms and accusations all by herself, she might pollute my in-box less frequently.  Likewise, if my liberal friends with their itchy link fingers had to generate the jokes and skits and put-downs themselves, the pages of Facebook would have a cleaner, sparser look.

I think that Facebook, with its ease of posting and linking, its absence of editors, is playing a perhaps unintended but real role in the disintegration of civility in public discourse.  Blogs and websites do this too, of course, but one has to choose to visit a certain blog or website.  Whereas all you have to do is get on Facebook, naively accede to a few friend requests, and you're in the soup.

I don't want to add to the political warfare by slapping my conservative friend in the face, so I'm hoping one of you can tell me whether it is possible to unfriend someone in a discreet, diplomatic way.  Or would it be a better contribution to civil discourse for me to let her diatribes live cheek by jowl with the rants of my liberal friends?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Of Peepers And Bears

Here in Vermont we get two kinds of peepers:  leaf peepers and spring peepers.

Leaf peepers are "flatlanders" who come "from away" to peep at "the colors" during "foliage season."  (Can you tell I've become proficient in Vermontese?)  Although they tend to clog the roadways and ask quaint questions such as "what do y'all do up here all winter?" they contribute to the local economy and add a certain color all their own.

Spring peepers are universally beloved.  Tiny frogs less than one-and-a-half inches long, they emerge from under the leaves of the forest floor and out of the muck of the swamps and begin to make the most delicious din.  This happens right as "sugaring" ends, when night time temperatures remain above freezing.  I can't tell you how thrilling it was last night, as I let the dogs out, to hear the first peepers of 2011 in the swamp at the bottom of our woods.  And today, right on schedule, the first little frog (but too big to be a peeper) swam up from the muck at the bottom of our fish pond, and perched on a dead leaf that was floating on the surface.

Things are waking up everywhere, and the State of Vermont has issued its annual warning to the citizenry to put away their bird feeders until next October.  Black bears are coming out of hibernation, whole tribes of them, hungry and temperamental, and there's not much for them to eat, so bird feeders act as bear magnets...which is precisely why I foolishly leave mine up.

In other news, a herculean young neighbor finished filling our two-foot-high vegetable beds with dirt.  All I have to do is distribute the contents of two compost bins among the beds, and then I can start planting.  But the really major news is that it's 4 p.m. right now and I'm writing this outside, in the sun.  Only if you have lived through a winter like the last one can you feel this way about spring...which is why I refuse to fly anywhere for relief from the cold.  The depths of misery (well, almost) followed by the heights of exultation--I like my seasons bi-polar.  And you?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

White Shadows And Other Wonders

When I woke up this morning, the fields and the yard were completely white--same old, same old--but this time it was frost instead of snow.  The sun shone brightly, and by ten o'clock the ground was the dull brown of early spring.  But on the northwest side of the house, there are three cone-shaped evergreens, and  on the side opposite the sun, three perfect white cones--their frosty "shadows"--stayed on the ground for a while longer.

Saw the first earthworm while weeding the flower bed behind the house.  Saved the tiny weeds for the hens, who fell upon them with delight.  Their yolks will soon take on that deep orange color they get when the hens feed on fresh greens.

Heard the first phoebe.  Every year they nest in our front porch and make a mess, but we don't have the heart to kick them out.

Removed the hay mulch from the lavender bushes, all of which appear to have survived the third-snowiest winter on record.  I found creeping thyme and oregano bright green and spreading under six inches of matted hay.  No signs yet of the snow-planted spinach, but I'm optimistic.

First tick of the season, too.  One of the tiny evil ones, in my arm, sucking my blood.

The dandelions are up, though it will be a while before they bloom.  I think I'll make dandelion wine again this year.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wolfie And Bisou Go To The Vet

Bisou was due for a rabies shot,  Wolfie for his distemper booster.  But instead of automatically giving Wolfie a possibly unnecessary vaccination, I had him titer-tested--an expensive way to determine his immunity.  Both dogs needed their heart-worm tests before I could start them on heart-worm meds in May.  As long as we were drawing blood, both were also tested for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

Both were praised for their just-right weights, shiny coats, friendly attitudes.  It is not often, these days, that I get such positive reinforcement.

Alas, Bisou tested positive for Lyme, and Wolfie for Anaplasmosis, another tick-borne disease, despite faithfully-administered tick repellents.  So far, both are asymptomatic, but will need antibiotics if they become listless, have painful joints, lose their appetites, have vomiting or diarrhea, and so on.   Bisou got some homeopathic  pellets to help with post-rabies-shot discomfort.

During the visits, they made me proud.  Bisou greeted everyone effusively, sat to be petted and abstained from jumping up, perhaps because the experienced staff dropped to a crouch the minute they saw her.  She submitted patiently to fruitless efforts by the vet-tech to pierce a vein.  She was stroked and cooed over and smiled at, but when it was over she barked urgently at the door of the exam room to be taken back to the truck.

Wolfie was serious and inquisitive.  He sang a dirge while we held him and the vet drew blood.  He wasn't too happy about having his hindquarters palpated, but dealt with it o.k.  Unlike harmless Bisou, he got a bunch of treats from the vet.  Everyone was relieved that this big black dog had proved so mild.

During the half-hour drive over hill and dale to the vet's, both dogs had been upright and alert, looking out the window at the teeming rain.  On the drive back, even though it was past their dinner time, they both collapsed in a heap.  Emotional strain tells on all of us, but dogs really know how to deal with it.

I am glad that my husband and I worked hard for many years so that now we can pay for vet bills.  I wonder how less fortunate families deal with the spiraling costs of veterinary care--today's bill was almost equal to our individual medical deductible.  People are already having fewer children because of the costs of caring for them.   I hate to think of those kids being deprived of dogs and cats because their parents cannot afford veterinary care.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Glass Jars

I went to the supermarket today.  This is something I try to do no oftener than once a month, there being so many better ways to spend one's time.  Back in the kitchen, I spent twelve minutes of my allotted time on this earth transferring things like pasta and flour and beans from their cellophane or cardboard wrappers into my collection of old glass jars.

I have a big screw-top jar for whole wheat flour, and another one for white.  I have a blue glass canning jar for lentils, a clear one for millet (what earthly use is millet?).  And one for oatmeal, one for barley, one for corn meal, one for brown rice.  I have a tall skinny one for cappellini, and squat one for rotelli.  Then there are the jars full of herbs and things that I dried last summer and never got around to doing anything with:  apple mint, lemon balm, orange peel, lavender buds, camomile flowers.

Glass jars line my none-too-extensive counters.  They fill the sunken space of the dry sink and the narrow shelf above it.  They collect greasy kitchen dust and take up valuable space.

But how I love my glass jars--blue, green, brown, even the clear glass ones, with their rusty wires securing the glass lids, or their dull zinc screw tops.  I love the look of lentils through blue glass, of rosemary leaves through brown glass, of pasta curlicues sculptural inside an almost invisible container.

Mostly, I love the illusion that the glass jars give, of a woman who shops not in a supermarket where things are sold pre-measured in cellophane or plastic, but in outdoor stalls where smiling merchants pour grains and meal and pasta noisily into a paper bag or a newspaper cone.

My glass jars are equivalent to those restaurant-quality kitchens you see in McMansions, whose owners are too frantic working to pay the mortgage to ever have the time to simmer a stew, let alone make an entire dinner from scratch.  My glass jars and their five-burner stoves and industrial fridges are there to support the fantasy that, while we are out pursuing our 21st century lives,  a loving someone is in the kitchen making broth, sauteeing onions, carefully browning the roux and thinking of us, waiting for us to come home.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Young Dog, Old Dog

Bisou had another play date with her brother Bear this afternoon.  On these occasions, they wrestle and growl and roll on the ground and wrestle some more and you'd think they're killing each other.  This continues unabated until the humans say "O.k., we've had enough;  let's go home."  The minute we got home, Bisou went for a walk with my husband and the big dogs, and did her usual maniacal running over the fields, just as if she'd spent the day reclining on the sofa.  Now, at last, she's snoozing next to me, digesting her dinner.  She's eighteen months young.

 Lexi will be thirteen in July, and she's old.  I can watch her aging by the day, sort of the way a nine-week-old puppy becomes a completely different being at twelve weeks.  Regular chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture treatments--and my dedication to keeping her slim--have kept her remarkably mobile despite galloping arthritis.  But I can see that every day the world makes less sense to her. 

It's not that she's blind or deaf.  It's more like she doesn't know what to do with what her eyes and ears tell her.  Sometimes I have to signal her twice when I give the o.k. for my always-ravenous dogs to eat their food.  Her eye/mouth coordination, when catching treats, used to be perfect.  In the last couple of weeks, it's dropped to a depressing 80%.

Her love for treats is undiminished, however, and she will gallop uphill for a bit of cheese.  Often, though, when we're in the woods and I call "Dogs, come!"  and Wolfie and Bisou come charging through the undergrowth and leaping over logs to get their treat, Lexi will stay a few feet away, her nose in a mound of leaves, oblivious to the call and the promise of cheese.

Worst of all, she wanders off.  At first I thought it was "selective hearing loss," whereby, having sensed my suspicion that her hearing might be going, she decided to exploit it for her own purposes.  Lexi always has been rather clever that way.  But now I think it's a combination of wanting to do her own thing and truly not knowing what the right thing to do is.

In the house, she's fading into the background, only coming to life at mealtime.  Like the aging Louis XIV, however, her authority over the other dogs is strong as ever.  They still won't cross her invisible boundaries, and though they covet her cozy bed in the TV room, they do not dare to lie in it.

But her end, though it may  not be near, is ever in my sights.  What will bring her down, and when, and how?  She's only twelve and a half, a mere child in human terms....

This makes me think of the children who, until the mid-twentieth century, routinely died in their parents' arms.  We have all wondered how people dealt with the death of one child after another.  We have all speculated that, in order to survive emotionally, parents must have invested less in a child, and that modern parenting as we know it arose as a correlate of the advances in medicine and sanitation that greatly increased the child's chance of survival.  But we will never know for sure.

What I do know for sure is that our emotional investment in dogs has expanded immeasurably in the last few decades.  At some point--was it because of more cars on the roads or more women at work?--we stopped chaining our dogs to a tree in the yard or letting them run loose in the streets. We brought them into the house, into our bedroom, into our life.  We read books about them, took them to obedience and agility and tracking classes.  We reflected on their inner lives, and on the food we fed them. Our relationship with them changed completely.

In this case, however, the relationship changed before science did.  Our dogs still wither and die before reaching--in human terms--adolescence.  One after another, over a human lifetime, we watch them perish. 

When my husband and I were first married, his grandfather's Pekinese, Chang, died.  We thought a new puppy would be just the thing, but the old man wouldn't hear of it.  "I'm through," he said, shaking his head.  "I can't do this anymore."  I am beginning to understand what he meant.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fish

That's what they call today in France, and it's been a fishy kind of day here.

Yesterday, the women in my yoga class, each of whom has been through a lifetime of tribulations, were the most upset I've ever seen them: "Can't stand it; not another storm coming; worst winter in my 25 years here; so sick of it; need some sun!"

This morning, as forecast, it was snowing heavily when I woke up. The ground was white. Same old, same old. But by the time I came back from feeding the hens, the snow had started to melt into the brown and muddy ground. And that's what it did all day long--snow and melt, snow and melt--until evening, when the air cooled and the snow started sticking again.

There is nothing gloomier than leaden skies, a plunging barometer, and snow on brown ground. Even the dogs seemed resigned to staying indoors. As for me, this was a "count your blessings" kind of day. The kind of day where your very eyelids droop with languor, your mind feels wrapped in cotton wool, and all you can do to keep despair at bay is to repeat the litany of blessings:

I have a house.
I am not hungry.
I have three dogs.
I have six hens.
I got a handwritten letter from a school friend in which she said, "Can you believe that we are the elders now?"
The state of Vermont is not at war.
The  rosemary bush is still alive.

I remembered  my  mother's old admonition when I used to moan about teenage woes:  "You have nothing to complain about.  Just think, you could be a quadriplegic."  But that only used to make me feel worse, thinking about all the quadriplegics.  So I don't add that to my litany.

I'm doing my best to be Zen about this, to acknowledge my mood and observe it impartially, as I would observe a school of fish passing by in an aquarium.

Post script to yesterday's post about Pileated Woodpeckers:  here is a photo my husband took a while back of a tree sculpture made by a Pileated W., with Lexi shown for scale.