Ring of Fire

A ray of light illuminates the red crest of the silhouetted form of a ladder-backed woodpecker perched in a tree on the Chuckwagon Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in February 2020

There is a species of woodpecker in the desert I’ve glimpsed so briefly that it wasn’t until two months ago I could put a name to its face. After seeing them a few times recently I decided Sunday morning to try for a picture in the early light, heading to the one section of the one trail where I’ve seen them. The sun was just cresting the mountains, not yet illuminating the desert floor, when I stopped in my tracks as a ring of fire flashed atop the silhouetted form before me, a ray of light illuminating the red crest of a ladder-backed woodpecker.

The Cat Signal

A silhouette of Boo atop the cat tree appears next to the door of my office on September 16, 2017. Original: _DSC9208.ARW

On Sunday rain and cooler weather arrived for a few days, not only drenching western Oregon with desperately needed rain but helping fire crews deal with the Eagle Creek Fire ravaging the Columbia River Gorge. But the day prior smoke from the fires increased throughout the day in Portland, to the point that I stayed inside and didn’t even let Ellie go out for her evening walk. Late in the day, with the sun colored red by the smoke, I noticed an interesting pattern of shadows on my wall. As I photographed it I looked to my right and saw the Cat Signal on the far wall, a silhouette of Boo atop the cat tree.