Whenever I hear it,  nyank nyank nyank, my world lights up just a little bit more, because I know there are nuthatches around. I adore nuthatches. If it weren’t for all the other cute birds, they’d have the cute franchise sewn up. Red-breasted nuthatches aren’t at all uncommon but it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I saw or heard them with any regularity at my house. That first year I heard lots of them. We even hosted a couple in our birdhouse, when they aced out our chickadees Marge and Studley Windowson, who were still measuring for the piano when the nuthatches bombed in with first-and-last and the security deposit. It didn’t work out well for the nuthatches, though. Their tenancy turned out to be a complete disaster and the Missus wasn’t even speaking to her mate when she flew off for the last time. This year I haven’t seen any nuthatches at all, here. I’ve assumed the whole place brings up bad memories for them, and I’m sad about that.

Interesting fact: Dave can’t hear nuthatches. Whenever we’re walking and I point them out, he looks baffled. Even when I imitate them and point in their direction he can’t hear them, or me. Apparently they beep in a very narrow frequency range and he doesn’t have the bandwidth for it. My voice is in the same range. A lot of the time he can’t hear me either. Apparently.

On the other hand, I can’t hear the dog that drives him nuts. Our neighbor has a dog that she lets out into the back yard to deliver updates to the neighborhood. Everything the dog has to say he says in the first five seconds, but he’s real thorough, in case anyone passing through a half-hour later has missed the first bulletin. It’s not really that I can’t hear him as much as I tune him out. He has a low voice, like Dave, whom I also don’t always hear. Apparently. Probably I don’t hear the dog because I get a lot of sleep and I’m thinking about other things.

I’m sure this annoys Dave though. It’s pretty annoying when something is driving you nuts but your partner is all “what-ever” and smiling like the freaking Buddha. It makes you feel small and petty. I’m not sure why the Buddha didn’t get his ass handed to him more often than he did.

Some of the time the dog is barking, I’m thinking about something I’m writing, or want to write. Sometimes there’s almost nothing going on in my head. Sometimes I’m thinking about how I feel pretty good, which means I might have ovarian cancer, which often presents with no symptoms. Sometimes I’m just thinking about how nice and quiet it is.

“Haven’t heard the dog barking in a while,” I might say, at the risk of irritating Dave, if in fact the dog had been barking up a storm and I hadn’t noticed.

Dave’s head pops up, ready to refute, and then his face relaxes. “I don’t hear anything,” he marvels.

Yay! The nuthatches must be back!