I have known for some time that there are hawks on the meadow. Some days I would hear a distinct cry from the tree tops and occasionally, be blessed with a rare glimpse. A solitary raptor returning from the hunt. The sudden, silent spreading of wings in hasty ascent as I turned a corner between the trees.
On one particular grey, after the winter rain, morning, I watched in awe as one soared out from the thicket into the wide, open sky above the clearing, wheeling round and round at a dizzying height, as if compelled by the sheer exuberance of being, calling to some unknown other.
Then, in a moment, a second joined in and together they soared in ever widening circles, dancing their ancient, timeless dance, to the silent rhythm of some unheard song, audible only to wild ears.
These sightings were rare, days and weeks would go by without even a glimpse, Always, a sighting would fill me with joy and yearning. A deep, abiding thrill that comes from knowing that, even on days when we don’t encounter a single other (human or dog) my dogs and I are not alone.
That always, ever, other eyes are watching, other hearts are beating, all around us. And along with the deep sense of privilege, the uneasy longing that comes with the knowing that though they are so near, the hawks are ever beyond my reach. Me, encased in my gravity-held body, feet firmly planted on this earth and they, born aloft on feathered wings, inhabiting their azure world.
Then, a moment a few days ago. Crossing the open grassy expanse, a movement from my right. A hawk flew by me. So breathtakingly close that, for a moment, I was left breathless. Wings outstretched so that I could clearly see the tell-tale black and white striped underwing feathers.
As my eyes followed the path of his flight, for one spellbinding moment, he paused aloft, bobbing on the strong breeze as he hovered above us, as if to say, “Here I am. I am Hawk.” Then, wings tucked in, a diving descent and he was gone, a vanishing phantom.
The closeness of the encounter, the energy, strength and incredible beauty of this perfect being, lingered as the dogs and I continued our trudge. This sighting left me feeling blessed… as if the dying year had decided to surprise me with a parting gift. We walked on content. If that was 2016’s gift to me, it was enough.
But, as it turned out, it wasn’t. For, some moments later, as I stood throwing pine cones for my dogs, Hawk swooped down from a tree top and alighted onto a low branch. There he settled as if to watch us. I could barely believe my eyes. Never before had I had the privilege of being so close to something so untamed, wild. Afraid to move for fear of startling him, I stood and gazed in wonder. And he? He tilted his head in classic Hawk.
Afraid to move for fear of startling him, I stood and gazed in wonder. And he? He tilted his head in classic hawk style, and stared back with his steely black/amber eyes. It was as if he had chosen to draw back a curtain and reveal himself.
As if he was saying, “Here I am, woman. I see you. See me.” For a still, quiet moment, we simply gazed at each other. Two disparate beings from disparate worlds, together in this space, at this moment, on this shared planet.
Then we moved on, my dogs and I, but when I looked back, as if he was saying, “Here I am, woman. I see you. See me.” For a still, quiet moment, we simply gazed at each other. Two disparate beings from disparate worlds, together in this space, at this moment, on this shared planet. Then we moved on, my dogs and I, but when I looked back, hawk was still there, silent and still on his chosen perch.
The entire encounter lasted a few fleeting moments, but its memory lingers still. For a magical moment my world had been touched by another, and my view of that world has been altered forever. Now, I know where the hawks hang out on the meadow. I have seen them regularly since, but only when I walk alone, with just my dog companions, and only when they choose to let me.
The thing of it is; there have always been hawks on the meadow, certainly long before me (and, almost certainly long, long after).) I only had to open my eyes to see.