Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Hawk in the Yard

This fall a hawk has come to the back yard.  I see him every day.  The hawk hunts for worms most of the time, listening like a robin does, perhaps even feeling the vibration in his feet and suddenly plunging his beak into the soil and pulling out a big fat one.  But sometimes that sleek black beak comes up with something larger, plumper, a mole or a vole, usually.

He swoops in and out so royally I've gotten to where I imagine a little fanfare for him.  He's probably, one, one-and-a-half feet tall and his wingspan must push four.  Hawks come in fast, quietly and elegantly.  He lands so softly and straightens up.  Hawks have excellent posture.

He just showed up, I swear.  He stood for a while and headed into the maple tree, Nick's maple tree, the one on the right.

Serious looking fellow, ain't he?

It's interesting to watch him back there.  He gets a lot of grief.  Smaller birds, jays and such, squawk and fly at him, trying to chase him away.  The squirrels chatter and fly around the tree near him, safe, I'd guess, protected by the limbs and branches from his wide wings.

I know the science of a lot of it.  Predators and prey, the circle of life.  There's aeronautics and lift.  Tangible things, talons and sound waves, entrails and blood.  Tufts of fur left behind will, some season soon, line nests and burrows.  It's nature, it's codified and explained.  For instance I assume this guy is a Cooper's hawk, Accipiter cooperii.  There are pages of information about them.

Here's the thing though, people have been watching hawks since before men could remember.  Sometimes I see them through those eyes.  I see a raptor soaring on the wind, I see it sweep down, I watch it labor away into the sky, prey dangling.  I marvel at its ease and comfort, the surety of it all.  I can understand wanting to be that hawk. 

I will wear a chest plate and stand up straight and proud, unafraid.

I will fashion a helmet for battle and it will look like a hawk's head.

I will wish for his wings, wish for his freedom, speed and courage.

I will want to be him.

We know so much, we've explained it all so well.  But, sometimes...

...sometimes, I am just a man, at the dawn of time, looking up at a soaring beast and sensing that I will someday fly.


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