Those Woodpecker Winters

”Wake up! Wake up!” The woodpecker knocks, flying from tree trunk to tree trunk, swooping gracefully between the branches. “Spring is here. Wake up!“

Against the pale white bark of the poplar trees, her red crest hat can be seen by all the creatures of the forest, like a flame alight in dark meadow.

“Wake up, poplar!” She knocks. “Wake up, spruce!”

“Let us sleep. It is only April. The winter is still not over.” Poplar replies with a shiver of her branches.

“Even the ants are still hiding in their burrows. ” Creaks spruce. “Let us be if only for a few more weeks. Wake us when the hares winter white coats have fallen, or when the wasps stir from their nests. Not now. It is still too soon.”

“Oh, but poplar, if you do not wake now and show the fresh green your leaves to the winter she will not know her time is passed. And spruce, if your boughs do not bud fresh and bright winter will wonder why you wait.” Woodpecker knocks, flying from tree to tree tapping her bill against the cool wooden trunks. “So, wake up! Wake up, I say!”

Spruce shivers her needles in the spring breeze.

Poplar shakes her bare branches against the whisps of low clouds.

”Let us sleep!” The trees all say together.

And so woodpecker flies along her way, red hat and all, chased by a stray snowflake fluttering down towards the ground and adrift on the cool spring winds.

Comic: Be Prepared!

I’m still working on my new comic, but in the meantime I’ve been digging through the archives of my previous strip and realizing that there are dozens of stories about hiking, camping, and outdoor sports.

For example, after a particularly expensive outfitting trip to the local camp-gear store, I was inspired to draw “Be Prepared!

This comic was about a guy and his daughter...

What kinds of adventures do you think a guy and his dog could get up to in the Canadian wilderness?

I’ve been writing some scripts.

Drafting some art.

Preparing to post.

Melt

thin films of water
painting asphalt
with spring sounds
klooksh! kloompsh! klunsh!
me treading carefully
across
around
astride
black reflections on the ground
and remnants of winter
crunching underfoot
glinsch! grensch! glansch!
grit
stones
pebbles
traction against icy slickness
sweesse! schweesh! swaasse!
that linger in shade
cast by naked limbs
leafless
thawing
melting
into puddles
becoming wet toes

- bardo

I have reserved some space on this blog each week to be creative, and to post some fiction, poetry, art or prose. Writing a daily blog could easily get repetitive and turn into driveling updates. Instead, Wordy Wednesdays give me a bit of a creative nudge when inspiration strikes.

Embarrassing & Stupid

(serialized fiction)

The video faded to credits and I pulled the lid of the computer closed with that familiar magnetic click. My arm hurt. I let the aluminum rectangle slide to my left side where it caught between a fold in the blanket and my hip. I leaned back into the pillow and I’m sure an involuntary groan escaped through my lips.

“That looked interesting.” A nurse stepped into the room leading a wheeled cart of vials and medical implements in front of her. Her nametag read Gail. I could only see her now-familiar eyes which scream pity and the pink medical mask covering her mouth and nose buckled ever so slightly in sync with her lips as she spoke. “Was it you?”

“In the video?”

“Yeah?”

“Nah. It’s just some guy —” I shrugged weakly. The medication had dialed the sharp pain back to merely a dull ache. That ache was the various muscles in my back and neck waving a white flag. “— a channel I’ve been watching lately.”

“I need to take some more blood, okay?” Gail moved my laptop to the bedside table, careful to untangle the power cord from the safety rail. She prodded the space on the hospital bed beside me smoothing the blankets into a makeshift workspace for her collection of vials and labels she would need in a moment. Then, she took my arm with her hand and lightly touched around the intravenous tube with practiced fingers. She asked. “So — you’re an athlete right?”

“I guess. I run.” I replied but I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and think of my accident then correct myself. “I mean — I used to run.”

“I run, too.” The fabric of her mask implied she smiled, and with a nod she added. “Don’t worry. We’ll get you back out there.”

Neither of us said anything as she peeled printed sticker labels from a tear-off sheet and applied them to a small collection of glass tubes, the soft clicking noises filling the silence in the air.

“I do envy some of the people in those videos though.” She said finally as I watched her start to fill the vials one at a time with dark, red liquid draining from the tube in my arm. “You know — they’re out there doing it — right? Really living.”

“I tried that — “ I shrugged even while realizing I was only stoking the fires of her pity for me. Not a good look. “See where really living got me?”

Her eyes finally met mine. “You going to let a little tree branch swatting you in the arm stop you, then?” And when I looked away sheepishly and didn’t reply she continued. “I haven’t told anyone this — so if you tell Sasha out there I won’t be so gentle with your blood draw tomorrow —“ she winked. “— but last week I was out for my run and a wasp flew into the front of my shirt. She managed to wriggle under my bra and stung me good and hard — right here.” She tapped her chest over her heart at the top of her right breast.

I smiled, weakly.

“Not funny.” Her eyes flashed a fake scolding glare. “It hurt like hell — and I had an itchy welt there for three days.”

“And you got right back out there?” I teased. “Is that my lesson for today?”

Gale dropped the vials of blood gently into a pink plastic basket on her cart. “No lesson.” She shrugged. “I’m just saying that nature has it out for all of us — and there are plenty more boring ways to earn a scar than having a tree fall on your head.”

“Boring, no. Try embarrassing.” I corrected. “Or maybe just stupid.”

(cracking woods - part 02)

Gaige Gildon is a fictional trail runner who lives and trains in Edmonton. After a trail accident, he quit his tech job in 2019 to focus on his recovery and his passion for outdoor adventure. In 2021 he partnered with The Cast Iron Guy blog to write and post about his upcoming pan-Canadian multi-sport trip.