The Woodpecker Tree Story

A true story from my childhood, just because it’s a cool story:

So when I was a kid we moved a lot. My dad was a chemical engineer, and he kept moving up the ladder that way. Anyway, 1st and 2nd grade for me found us in West Virginia. In West Virginia we lived in sort of spread out suburbia, along a hill top. The front of the house was one or two stories, but the back was like 3-4 stories from the ground, being on the hill. The kitchen faced out the back, on the third story. The kitchen table came out from the wall where there was a window. Just outside the window we had a wooden tray full of bird seed to feed the birds, so you could sit at the table and the birds would be just on the other side of the glass, mere inches away. The birds knew the glass was there and were not bothered by our proximity.

Looking out the window you could see down the very big hill. And it was all woods that I played in. Featured in our back yard were two big trees, one of which was dead and stark. We hung suet on the dead tree at the height of the kitchen window, and thus could see the woodpeckers come for the suet. Including a family of the large pileated woodpeckers (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pileated_Woodpecker/overview). And some woodpeckers that actually nested in the tree. My parents kept thinking they should chop down the dead tree out of fear it would someday fall over and hit the house. But we so enjoyed the pileated woodpecker family they could not bring themselves to do it.

One day I came home from school — there had been a vicious storm all morning. And a huge live tree had fallen towards our house. We’re talking over a hundred feet tall or more I think – these trees I am talking of – they were all taller than our house – so at least 5 stories high each. And it had gotten caught in its fall by the dead tree. Just so that had it not, it would of totally demolished our house – the fallen tree was held suspended over our house with only like a foot or two to spare. The dead woodpecker tree was not the one that fell in the storm, but instead a live tree further out that you would not of suspected as being a threat. And on top of that the woodpecker tree totally saved our house by catching the live tree.

Pretty cool, eh?

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