I have some unease with nature, wanting to be out in it, to get down on its level as I dig and dither, setting plants at just the proper angle and depth, as I amend the beds with compost from my own kitchen castings supplemented by bags of manure hauled home from Lowe's or Rural King.

Distressed about the fate of bees, I keep my zinnias around long after their stalks have grown woody and unattractive because bees like zinnias. My basil is almost as tall as I am, but because bees love that, too. I let it grow and flower with abandon, making sure I don't rile the little darlings when I am passing by.

I have given up on tomato farming, have conceded this endeavor to nature. The squirrels, you see, I no longer call them horrible names as they scurry across my fence and climb, like Dracula, up the side of my neighbor's house. I can even share in my pal's enthusiasm and pride when he sends photos and videos of his prolific tomato patch.

Just this week he took us on a virtual tour by way of his iPhone to show us the clumps of tomatoes still blushing red, the cherry tomatoes hanging in like bunches grapes, more tomatoes than he will eat or can.

He sends us pictures, I think, to amaze us, as he is amazed, at what has come out of this piddling little piece of ground tucked up by an old garage and fighting for sunlight with mature trees.

Really it is the nearest nothing garden spot you ever saw. He knows it. He put it to work for the first time this summer, and I think he can't quite believe his luck. That, or he suspects a body may be buried underneath it.

So, I get it.

Nature is in charge. Nature had determined that Silas will be lousy with tomatoes and I will have none. I am at peace with the balance I have struck to coexist with squirrels, the hostile heat, the bees, the possum that died a gruesome and disgusting death -- one that went undiscovered for weeks -- in my backyard this summer.

But then, this.

I arrived home to the sounds of knocking and loud rapping on my porch. It sounded like a troop of Girl Scouts playing with their lummi sticks, this wooden, hollow banging. It rapped and rapped. It stopped. It started again.

Stealing around the porch I spotted it, a small woodpecker, too fast for me to get a good look. I thought perhaps it had flown away but now I am not so sure. There, up near the ceiling of my porch, on one of my wooden columns is a large diamond-shaped hole, a big hole, big enough for the little Sunbeam to have disappeared down it.

I couldn't believe it. I am not overstating it when I say I felt violated. The hole is so big, so blatant, so uncalled for, that I am having trouble coming to terms with it. The sheer audacity of it stuns me.

I walked around the porch and sure enough, there are small practice holes on every column. Any other time, I would be thrilled to have a woodpecker in the neighborhood, if it stayed out in the trees where it belongs. I would invite friends over, we would sit around in the backyard, listening, toasting the outdoors.

So, now I have to patch that hole. But first I must make sure that woodpecker isn't inside making a nest, as Google tells me is exactly what he or she may be doing. Just idle hammering is supposed to be something woodpeckers do because they enjoy the sound. But when they make a honkin' big hole, it means home. I can't have it.

I'll be fixing the hole this week, but now I have to give the woodpecker fair warning that I am serving an eviction notice. Or do I? I suppose I do.

Maybe I'll get some lummi sticks and hammer out my own tattoo at the base of the column. I'll bang away, giving the woodpecker a sporting chance to vacate the premises. I would rather not seal him or her inside the column-like poor old Fortunato. Then I will go about protecting my home, because that, too, is nature.

But really, keeping a balance is easier when nature leaves your stuff alone.

Greta McDonough is professor of human services at Owensboro Community & Technical College and author of the book, "Her Troublesome Boys: The Lucy Furman Story." Her column runs each Wednesday in Community. She can be reached via email at greta.mcdonough@kctcs.edu.

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