Pileated Woodpecker Morning

The Pileated Woodpecker Morning

The sound blasting through the near sunrise morning was like that of a staccato drilling machine, one would imagine coming from a pneumatic wooden hammer slamming into the thud of wood-on-wood. “Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d  Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d   Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d.”  Pause, then repeat again. Several times. Then a longer pause. Only to start again, repeating the cycle.

It was hardly annoying.  In fact I rather enjoyed it.  It kept me awake while waiting for that hoped-for deer to come down this well-worn trail and stopping in the rut just inside of the bow and my-shot-confidence, range.

But after a while, even the drilling-drum of the pileated woodpecker was acting more like a sleep agent than a stimulus. I found myself nodding more to starboard with each cycle of, “Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d ’s.”

I had actually dozed off when I had the distinct impression of being watched.  It was then I realized my eyes were closed.  On the off chance that the ‘watch’ was coming from a deer; though unlikely since I was 14 feet off the ground; I decided to slowly open on eye.

The Pileated Woodpecker Morning, eLITHOGRAPH, by les booth
‘The Pileated Woodpecker Morning’, is an eLITHOGRAPH by les booth, measuring, 13” x 16”; digital original; printing out in acrylic oil format.

As the eyelid breached its locked position, I was greeted with a – less than 12-inches from my eyeball – close-up of  a very inquisitive red fox squirrel.  I halted the process of opening my eye, long enough to gather both a bit of collected composure; that most certainly *IS*, a bit of an unnerving greet!, after all; and to allow the squirrel time to realized there was no danger coming.  I don’t think it mattered.

As I opened the one working eye, the squirrel seemed to be growing impatient.  Like I would hear it say; any moment now:

“Hey! C’mon! Wake up. Open that eye and let’s get on with the meeting!”  

All the while, in the distance, the pileated woodpecker, began his cycle again:  “Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d  Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d  Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d.”  Then it stopped for a bit, only to resume, in the same cyclical order as before.

Meanwhile, Mr. Fox Squirrel was checking me out.

I felt comfortable that I could waylay any attempt -by this little fuzzy-tailed rat- to pick my eyeball out for lunch; should such a notion strike.  I had my bow cradled in a stand in front of me, on my lap I held two broad head arrows attached to aluminum shafts. I was quite confident I could dispatch any attempt in stealing my eye ball! So I just watched and observed.

The stare-down wandered off into the deep universe that is the blackness found in the pupils- of all living creatures; for what seemed an eternity, but was more like 3-4 minutes.  It’s an unnerving thing to have such an intimate non-verbal communication with an alien being. It’s also quite enjoyable.  Once you get past the notion of it wanting your eye for ocular sushi.

We were headed, no doubt, into another eternal four minutes, when suddenly there was a rustle of feathers just above my head.

I heard it. Felt it. But did not lose eye contact with Mr. Red Fox Squirrel.  Nor he with me.  Yet, I could see that he did ‘look up’.  I didn’t see his eyes move so much as his ‘attention’.  It was uncanny.  Sort of like ‘he’ was really some little entity, wandering about in the recesses of his head, in a ‘control room’ of sorts.  And his ‘attention’ had just been drawn to the ‘upper monitors’.  “Incoming. Identify: Friend or Foe.  Fight or flight. Assess!!”   All that in a split second.

Then the …“Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d, Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d, Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d, Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d!”  Took off just a couple of feet above my head!  Chips were flying all over the place and the noise was deafening!!

But me and Mr. Squirrel?  We keep right on staring it down.  Well, at least I did. He, on-the-other-hand, appeared to still be adjusting the monitors up in the control room.

Now through all of this you may have wondered,

“Hmm?  Just how is it that the squirrel is looking me right in the eye, so close?”

Well … that is a good question.  I am sitting on a limb stand, just 14’ off the ground and there is a large off-shoot limb right out in front of me.  I didn’t cut it out because it offered good ‘diffusion cover’ and did not present any problem with gaining a full draw, smoothly and quickly in any of a 190 degree radius.  Mr. Squirrel was on that limb, clinging with his hind legs, hanging  DOWN, and into my face.  If he let go, he would drop right into my face.

“Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d, Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d, Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d, Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d!” , started the second cycle of pileated pounding for bug-breakfast.  It stopped and Mr. Squirrel and I were settling in for another ‘eye-down’, when the real fun began.

Unbeknownst to any of us: Mr. Red Fox Squirrel, Pileated Pounder Pete and me, the Snoozy Deer Hunter, there was a fourth partner in this autumnal woodland party mix.

None of us were aware that a local resident, one, Mr. Bubo virginianus, was huddled about 8 feet above us all on a cloaked branch lookout.  It must have been a sense that his fail-proof-plans to have Mr. Squirrel for his morning delicacy, were being – at least in his one-way owl-directed-mind – thwarted by PPP and his “Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d ing.”

For almost as soon as PPP began his third series of, “Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d, Thrud-d-d-d-d-d-d-d”, …. Mr. Great Horned Owl leaped from his branch, tucked his wings into a hell dive and ‘booked-it’ for Mr. Red Fox Squirrel.  This one motion – put into action a most unsettling – and chaotic chain of events.

I could not see any of this, only hear it.  Mr. RF Squirrel could.  But he never ‘seemed’ to take his eyes off of me.  Yet, in an instant he was springing for the top of my head while I, was still locked on the inner universe of his eyes..!

So my reaction was totally … dead-pan.  I just sat there.  Probably a good thing considering the breaking action that was just about to take place.

Three feet into the dive, Mr. Hootie Owl zipped by the head of PPP scaring him near dead-on-sight, sending, now addled PPP, into a rapid exist of rustling, big, black wings and much “Wuk-Wuk-Wuk-ke-ke-ke-ke” screaming.

This, broke my concentration, and it sent Mr. RF Squirrel spinning on the top of my head like a whirling dervish.  I was not yet in full ‘abandon ship mode’… yet.  But the thought was beginning to take shape as the little feet of Mr. RF Squirrel beat stomping ruts into the top of my hat.

Just as Mr. RF Squirrel was getting set to lauch, Mr. Hootie Owl, hit him like ton of bricks. That’s what it felt like on my head!  OUCH!!  The last thing I remember seeing – before waking up in a bit of a suspended position, at the end of my far too loose ‘life line’, was Mr. RF Squirrels bushy tail flailing limp in the breeze as his whole body, tightly in the huge grappling talons of Mr. Hootie Owl, undulating with the big guys wing beats.

A few minutes later I came to: upside down; my head pounding; and the world spinning in a most disorienting inverted format.  I distinctly remember thinking, “Well, Mr. Owlie!  This is a fine mess you’ve gotten me in.”  Then I passed out again.

I awoke a bit later and with a bit more realization that I was in a predicament. I began to assess the damage and devise a plan of extraction.

Nothing broken: amazing.  No cuts: no blood flowing or clotting.  There would undoubtedly be bruises.  Now the next thing: “How the devil was I going to get down from this?”  Fortunately, I was in my mid 30’s, in excellent physical condition and had actually practiced just this sort of ‘unexpected situation’.

After a bit of contortionist moves, I was able to grab hold of  the strap, pull myself back up to my stand; about 4 feet; just about at my feet level.  And scramble back onto the blind platform.  After I got myself settled.  Calmed a bit.  Cleared my head and my vision.  I looked around.

Both arrows that I had in my hand when Mr Hootie Owl kamikazed Mr. RF Squirrel, off the top of my head, were sticking in the ground almost vertical below me.  My bow was laying out about 15 feet from the base of the tree, looking none the worse for the incident.  And standing – just this side of the very well-used scrape was the 10-point White-tail buck I had been there for, in the first place

He was standing there. Just looking.  No. More like staring at me.

How long he had been there, I have no idea. Both times I ‘woke-up’, I was not really with it.  And the second time, the only thing on my mind was finding a  way out of the mess I was in.

I’ll say this: If he was watching the whole time, I’m sure, that if deer have post-season conversation about their most interesting experiences, he was going to take the trophy cup home; hooves down!  Especially if he got to witness the whole enchilada.

I just looked back at him and said, “Well, Mr. White-tailed Deer, I will have to take a rain-check on today’s events.  Something else has come up and I need to attend to it.”  And on that note, I puked my breakfast up – in fine projectile-fashion – out and – fortunately – just shy of my bow.

The deer, just stared. He did not know what to think.  No doubt!  After a moment he snorted, stomped his front feet a couple of times, then just trotted away a few feet, to resume walking until he was out of sight.

And… Lord’s Eye True!! I could swear I heard him laughing!!  I know .. once I gained my composure, I was: Laughing!!  It was nervous, Adrenalin laughter, but it was laughter!  I was very glad to be alive and live to tell the story.

Every time, I hear a woodpecker drumming-drill, I immediately experience myself UPSIDE down and wondering, ‘How am I going to get out of this!?!’  I feel most fortunate, to still be around to enjoy the smile that creeps across my face, when this happens.

From that point forward… I make sure to use a very short-secure strap; full upper-body harness; secured well to the trunk-of-the-tree; when hunting from a tree platform.

Because… Man, O’ Man!  You just never know when a Pileated Woodpecker will signal you that a wild ride is coming.  Best thing: Be Prepared. PERIOD!!


Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)  the crow sized bird, who is a living jackhammer of the deciduous forest.  A striking cousin to the now believed extinct – giant – Ivory Bill woodpecker (Campephilus principals).  The pileated woodpecker is very similar in appearance, but is a good 4” shorter in height and a few decibels below the Ivory Bill; in it’s call and its resonate drilling-drum for insects in the forest trees.

‘The Pileated Woodpecker Morning’, is an eLITHOGRAPH by les booth, measuring,  13” x 16”;  digital original; printing out in acrylic oil format.

This image was inspired by a photograph taken by my Facebook Friend, Kurt Rhymestine, of Herkimer, NY.  Kurt’s photographs are amazing. Be sure to give them a close look, on his Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/kurt.rhymestine .  Thanks Kurt for the infusion of inspiration to illustrate this ‘wild moment in life’ story.  Best!!


Waves of Creativity

“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed” … Charles Darwin

Many metaphors have been used to describe the power of the forces found within those who are possessed with creativity.

I too have used the forces and elements of  fire, water, wind and earth to add imagery to explaining what happens.  But my favorite imagery word and metaphor is the WAVE.

Waves naturally occur in all elements of the natural world:  air, water, fire and earth.  Each of these are both elements and origins of waves.  The unknown forces of electricity and the inexplicable force of light also travels in, among and through the action of waves.

Thus, a better metaphor for creativity I do not know.

There is a force of an exceedingly odd and wondrous nature, which resides within the heart of those who create.  To me the best description of this force is that of a WAVE.

Waves do not begin as waves though. The begin as ripples.  Small at first, then growing as their energy builds.  In the world of reality, waves do not run unencumbered. There are always interferences that will divert, absorb, adopt… even eliminate a wave.  The same is quite true for the creative wave.

The ripple.  Beginning from a single source it spreads outward, touching nothing or everything.  It’s the luck-o-the-draw which it becomes.  The ripple continues on to its end back to a static state; so long as the genesis itself remains static.

When a ripple magnifies – in size or in number – it builds in size and energy.

The ripple turns into a wave.  The origin of the ripple determines the size of impact it will have at any time.  Each one housing its own kinetic energy the innate ability to instantly rise up to form a unified force that becomes a Wave.

When individual ripples of creativity unite, they form the creative wave and this is where collaboration begins.

Whether collaboration is the actual physical involvement – of two or more creatives  – with the outcome of a production – or the result of shared idea, discussion or other informative infusion of inspiration, the unification of the ripples cannot help but build into a creative wave.

The HOW and WHY of an creative wave formation is purely up for speculation. All I know is this: it was a kinetic amplitude that swept me into a barrel curl in the early days of January 2010.

GENESIS: The Continuum Begins

I was reading the mornings postings on my O’fieldstream Facebook account when I noticed a post by Jeff Kennedy.

Jeff over the 2009  year, had completed a self-made project he called Drawing Flies 365, which he posted the details, examples and updates of, on his blog.  In the project, Jeff – an accomplished artist – painted a fly-fishing fly each day for the 365 days of the year 2009.  At the end of 2009 he published a book of his work.  A very impressive piece of work, too.

In that Facebook post, I noticed he had teamed up with Jason Borger. Jason is, in his own right, an accomplished artist. He is also well knows for his roll as the renowned fly-caster ( the actual ‘shadow caster’ in the famous ‘A River Runs Through It‘ movie).  Jeff and Jason were teaming up to produce a daily, “My Take vs. Your Take”, collaboration of producing an illustration of a fly-fishing fly- every week- for the length of 2010.

I don’t know Jeff well, but we are FB friends and I’ve carried on a few FB posts with him over the past year.  While I’ve never met Jason,  I know ‘of him’.  Yes – just like and in the same way as – about 200M other people. Eh!  But, I do know his very famous father, Gary Borger.

All this rippling has gotten my creative juices and in turned put me into a mood that has gotten me to thinking. What I thought was…

“I’d really like to engage in some serious fun collaborations with other artists I know.”

And I knew just the person I wanted to contact for my first collaboration. In fact, I’d already stepped out and did a ‘silent-collaboration’ on a piece of this artist’s work.

Diane Michelin, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada was the first recipient of a  collaborative invitation.

Diane had placed on her Facebook page – around the first of January 2010 –  an image that immediately struck me  by the coloration, composition and characterization of one of my favorite outdoor passions (fly-fishing) and point-of-pursuit (brook trout (char).

I composed a ‘comment’ on Diane’s Facebook that included a  presentation – unfortunately no longer available online  – in which I invoked verbal liberty of assigning the name “Streamside”, to the print.  The forwardness was also liberally showered  in a wide variety of complimentary, ‘sides’.

That verbal jousting triggered more ideas.

A few minutes later a private message landed in Diane’s Facebook mailbox, waving, as an offering,  the following proposal.

I see you’re doing a ‘self-challenge’ of a painting a week .. a bit of Jeff Kennedy here, eh?

How ’bout adding a bit of Yin-Yang to the mix.

– You do a painting (Yin)
– release it to Facebook and point to it as your ‘Yin’ – and
– within 3 days I do a creative -something- (Yang) – in compliment

You produce your visual image -whatever it will be- and I’ll produce a story, poem, haiku, or other ‘visual’ to compliment (in true Yang principle), and then I will post it on my O’fieldstream Facebook,  OOAK Digital Gallery and here, on the Creative Exponential Continuum site, with links to your image, within 3 days of your initial posting.

In essence a Yang, to the Yin of your painting.

As an example:

To your most recent display (not sure of the ‘name’ or ‘title’ of the painting) – the brook trout at brook-side, w/ fly-rod+reel on stones, I submit the following Haiku and short-story, for your review.

My Yang.

Whadaya think?  “. )

To show Diane I was serious, I also sent her two ‘samples’ of my YANG to her YIN,  with the print, “Streamside”.

One was a traditional Haiku, the other a short-story in a news-story-report writing style of a fictional incident reported in the fictional pages of a very real Vancouver BC newspaper.

Diane’s response was more than I could have hoped for.  She was ecstatic about the idea.

Her enthusiasm for my proposal spurred me on.  The ripples was now beginnng to look just like a wave!

As of this posting, the goal is to obtain at least one collaboration – during 2010 – between myself and another ‘artist’ –  on each of the seven continents.  I’ve already connected with 4 Continents and am working on 2 of the remaining three!   Antarctica, you’re in my sights!

This site –The Creative Exponential Continuum – will become a running record – and gallery – of the collaborative creations taken on and hopefully completed in 2010.


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Again, thank you and we look forward to your visits and comments.

Les Booth
Founder of Creative Exponential Continuum