I am staring out my kitchen window, at what, if I were at sea, would be called a gale. The tall trees that form the thin blockade of leaves against development are swishing back and forth like those hula skirts in the 60s cartoons. This has my attention, but everything falls away as I startle to see hawk on the black trellis that might have held wily winding vines of passionflower, had not the wind waved them away, like an irritated householder waves away a fly before the face Hawk is facing the house, not the trees, making the visage of raptor profile even more fetching, mesmerizing. Alone, on the iron, hawk stands tall, I would like to say unwavering, but that’s imprecise. Hawk is not in idleness.
Hawk has determined the undulating trees more than a bit unreliable. He grasps the steady iron intent with professional curiosity about the wind. Clearly unaccustomed to such levels of fierceness in the force of these wild vagaries of intenseness and instability of air, He looks left and right, and then tilts his head back, almost upside down to look at the trees behind him, as if to say, “What is wrong with them?” Seeking clarity in the utterly singular.
The wind is so fierce that though the hawk herself is stolid in posture, his/her feathers are blowing up from his undercarriage around him/her, as if they are bloomers being raised in a Can-Can. Some of the primary flight feathers are blown askew as well, as if flaps of an experimental flying vehicle are being tested for their rotational extent. Hawk unmoved in his stance, moved only by these rogue waves of wind that seem, perhaps for the first time, to trump his ability to fly about freely in the air without a second thought.
Hawk pauses long. A number of minutes. I take pictures to capture all this but fall short. If had the right cameras, the technical skill, and was outside instead of inside, I would still fall short, because one breathless moment leads to the next. It is as if the air is in earthquake.
A great observer, Hawk is seeing this more clearly than I. This wondrous moment, an astounding expression of life so granular, never to be replicated.
The hawk has the eye for that granularity. It is not enough to admire him/her. I long to merge with his/her perspective, to see both as I see and as Hawk sees, to become part of the wind and the trees enough to see it all exactly just as it is.
I fall short, as my phone snaps moment after moment, some of them blurred by the wind, some of them smudged instead by shaking hands. I stop. I understand I am a witness, a bystander, not in any control of the moment enough to give any other meaning that what it reveals by itself. The photos will not deliver me from this.
I find a marbling of protest within me. I want to know what this means. I want to give it meaning. I want, most of all, to give the hawk its infinite flight which just now seems unreachable.
In the end, the hawk does fly off, in easy motion, that goes with the wind — at least the direction of the wind in that moment. A wind which in micro-time seems more like a strobe of many tides going back and forth in super-fast motion. But the hawk will take the gamble, Hawk will give its life to the wind to be part of it. In the end, Hawk trusts the wind more than a perch. The hawk trusts the storm of the air more than stillness.
I trust protest too much. The hawk is now gone. My thoughts intrude. The hawk’s absence a vacuum to be filled. Where its next perch will be? Will it be safe? Will it find a meal? Will it find a mate and raise its young? Will the cycle of life from plant, to granivore, to predator proceed safely and in proportion to all the ways the Earth has asked for it?
There are more unknowable variables beyond my ever understanding than there are storms in the sky. My longing is an ache and a protest, perhaps best left unfilled, until I find it a better perch, or a steadier wind, if in fact, such reliabilities remain in these times, in my mind. Hawk did not blink or bat an eye. Eyes open. This is the way in which I should follow. Longing not leading, but following, in tow, like a glider enroute to release.
By Evalyn Baron
On October 11, 2022
Oh my goodness, this is gorgeous!
By Paul DeLong
On October 15, 2022
Thanks, Evalyn! Must be a mirror! 🙂 Paul