When you spend your entire life deaf, any sound is beautiful. I was born a deaf child. My twin sister was perfectly healthy. I, on the other hand, was a "lucky" kid. The doctor had told my parents that I was fortunate just to have lost my hearing. My parents never said why this was, just that it was how things worked out. So for all seventeen years of my life, I haven’t been able to hear a thing. And oddly enough, I was okay with that fact, mainly because I have never known anything other then silence. So when I first heard the woodpecker, I was too stunned to do anything but listen to the most glorious sound in the world. I was home schooled due to my lack of hearing, so after my lessons I would always take a walk in the woods behind our house.<span> </span>It was a way to clear my mind after the arduous work that was presented to me. And even though I couldn’t hear anything, the woods would always tell me a story, in its own special way. If it was how the light slanted through the canopy, or how the wind made the trees vibrate, everyday was a new story told only to me. I can still remember the day as clearly as if I had just experienced it minutes ago. I had forged a trail through the woods that I followed everyday, it had become etched in my mind that I didn’t need to look where I was walking, I just walked. The day had not be well for me, since I had a buzzing in my head that refused to fade. I figured that my daily trip through the woods would ease the tension, but it seemed to only make it worse. The noise continued to grow louder the farther I walked into the woods, but I rejected the chance to turn around and go home. The woods that day were not releasing their stories easily due to the clamor, so I sat near the base of a tree and waited. I did not have to wait long for the story to come to the surface. I leaned back against the tree soaking in the story. The woods were alive with leaves falling gracefully to the floor, and it made me think of new beginnings. Only now do I realize the irony in my assumption. I had been sitting at the base of the tree, my tree, for over an hour when the racket began to evaporate. And in place of it came a constant tapping that continued for what seemed like forever. It appeared as if there was no break from the annoyances that day. I was still leaning against the tree when I felt vibrations coming from it. It took me a minute to understand that the tapping and vibrations were following the same pattern. As I looked up the trunk of the tree, I noticed a woodpecker hard at work. It dawned on me as soon as I stood up. I almost couldn’t believe it. I realized that I could hear the woodpecker. I could also hear sparrows chirping somewhere high in the canopy, and I could hear the crunch of the leaves as I walked over them. I was smiling like an idiot, stomping around the woods making as much noise as I possibly could. I had seventeen years of silence to make up for after all, so acting like a fool was the least of my worries. I looked up at the woodpecker again, who paused in his work to gaze at me. I laughed and I heard it. It was the best feeling in the world. I ran home as quickly as I could, making a racket so loud my parents and sister were in the yard with confusion written across their faces. As soon as they saw my smile, it was as if everything clicked into place. The rest of the afternoon was spent with them asking me questions and me answering them without using sign language. The next day the doctor confirmed that my hearing had surfaced, and I heard every word he spoke. From that moment on, I could hear anything and everything. But I never stopped my daily walks in the woods. These walks only got better, as the stories were amplified by my added sense. And once in awhile I can hear a woodpecker tapping away, and I always associate it with my woodpecker, and my tree, and my new beginning.
A Lucky Woodpecker
October 29, 2010