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A Solstice Story: Northern Flicker in Seattle
December 21, 2020
by William P. Meyers

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Winter Solstice

Today is the 2020 Winter Solstice. In our northern hemisphere it has the shortest daylight time of the year. Officially it marks the beginning of winter. That is because even though the days are getting longer, there is a lag in reheating the earth, so typically January and February are the coldest months of the year. I tend to think of winter as December through February 2, groundhog's day. I feel darkness is just as good of an indicator of winter. So someone else, back when winter got defined, could have declared winter to be the period between mid-November and mid-February, and we would all just accept that today.

Coincidently earlier this week I finished an art project, something I rarely do. I did a color pencil drawing of a bird, the Northern Flicker, or Colaptes auratus. Last night, taking Hugo out for a last pee, next to my house there was a freshly dead Northern Flicker. I have found many dead birds in my lifetime, but this was the first dead flicker. They are beautiful birds, even in death. The bird had no apparent injury, but of course in an urban area danger abounds.

William P. Meyers, pencil on paper, 2020

I first became familiar with Flickers in Mendocino County. I only saw them flying away. It took me a long time to be sure of their identification. This was in a mostly rural, mostly wooded area. In contrast the Flickers of Seattle seem to have become accustomed to humans and human noises. Where I am in Seattle there are a lot of trees, but I was surprised to see Flickers, which are a variety of woodpecker. You don't hear them pecking, they are omnivores who use their long-strong bills for feeding, but not so much pecking away wood to get at grubs in trees. Many times I have seen them near the windows of my townhouse.

Meanwhile the homeless of Seattle, perhaps 10,000 of them, are suffering through the winter. And many people who live near their camps are suffering along with them. The incompetence of Seattle's government has been on parade this year. Recently they floated the idea of legalizing rape, assault, and theft. That was too much, however, for all but the most lunatic of our City Council members. Of course the blame can be shared widely. There is the idiotic Washington State Constitution that bars state and local income taxes. There is the resistance of neighborhood groups to upzoning, which would allow more apartments and condos to be built. There is the pandemic, the one thing Seattle is handling relatively well. We have a low disease rate compared to the rest of the nation. Then again, our bars and restaurants are closed except for takeout.

In the politics-make-strange bedfellows department, I am liking city council member Debora Juarez a lot better. While she is certainly progressive, she has more common sense than, say, Teresa Mosqueda or certainly the Trotskyist pig Kshama Sawant (the only non-Democrat on the Council).

Pretending problems don't exist is not the same as fixing them. Hope and a joint are no substitute for rolling up the sleeves and putting people to work. Seattle has a lot going for it, but the further people live from homeless camps, the more they treat them as an abstraction, and vote for idiotic proponents of bone-headed policies.

The war on drugs did not work. I was against it. But Peace with Drugs is not working out either. So I will be writing my thoughts on that soon. Stay tuned.

And, as much as is possible within the Slow Motion Apocalypse, enjoy the new year.

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