If I were to tell you I had a flicker in my woodstove today, you would assume I meant a small fire, wouldn't you? Ah, but you would be incorrect!
Sometime yesterday, a real live flicker, like this one:
somehow made its way into my stovepipe and down into my woodstove. No small feat. Clearly the screen at the top of the pipe has decayed, to allow this fairly large bird to enter.
All last night, I heard scratching inside the stovepipe -- bird? mouse? I didn't know what to think, and couldn't imagine how it had gotten inside.
This morning I threw a blanket over the window on the front of the stove and had to leave for the day. My hope was that if it were feathered, it would fly up toward the light during the day. And, that if it were furry, it would somehow find its way back the same way it had gotten in.
This afternoon, on arriving home, all was quiet. But, when I opened the top of the stove, something moved. I screamed. Dogs barked. My first thought was that it was a big gray rat. Ugh.
I shone a flashlight in the front, and saw the unmistakeable black crescent that marks a flicker's chest. Relief that it wasn't a rat, but concern now. How do I get it out? Is it hurt? What to do.
Online, I found the phone number for a wildlife rescue organization in the area, and called for ideas. The answer was, that if the flicker wasn't hurt, the best thing to do was open one door or window, black out all the rest, and open the woodstove for the flicker to fly out on its own.
Long story short -- it worked, after the bird didn't move at all for several minutes (no doubt frozen in fear after all it had been through), and then after a few frantic moments of the poor bird flying up to the window I hadn't been able to reach to cover. But then I opened the double doors off my upstairs bedroom, encouraged the bird to leave the window where there was no opening, and he flew out through the open doors. Hooray.
Now that the adrenalin rush has subsided, I'm curious about the symbolism of the event. This flicker had to work VERY hard to get my attention, and put in a very difficult almost-24 hours. It makes me think there's something important here.
Online again, this time to search for "flicker symbolism." Here's one I found:
"The bright red markings of flickers are associated with fire, and in the Native American legends, Flicker sometimes features as a medicine character with powers over fire. Like other members of the woodpecker family, flickers are considered lucky birds and are associated with friendship and happiness. In particular, yellow-shafted flickers or yellowhammers are believed to bring good luck and healing; hearing their cries means that you will soon receive a visitor, and in some Northern California tribes, dreaming of a yellowhammer is the sign that a person will become a traditional healer."
And, Ted Andrews, in his book Animal Speak, tells us that the flicker represents spiritual, emotional, and creative change. That part I know is true. As I emerge from the two-year passage of Saturn through my 12 house, much has changed in my life and many things are still finding their way into new reality.
I find it interesting that the Native American legend gives flicker the power over fire -- and here was this flicker, in my woodstove.
I need to give my various levels of consciousness more time to consider all that the flicker was trying to communicate to me. But I especially like thinking that one of its purposes was, as the subject line of this post says, to remind us of the "flicker of hope" that can light our way during these powerful times of change.
And, oh yes -- I've scheduled a chimney cleaning and replacement of the screen at the top of the stovepipe. Don't want to put any more flickers, or myself or my dogs, through that experience again!