Yesterday, I was sitting, temporarily distracted, at my desk, gazing out the sliding glass door into the garden while chatting with the hubster on the phone. All of a sudden the finches and Oregon Juncos scattered wildly off the hanging bird feeder as a red-tailed hawk swooped down and landed on top of it.
Now, just so you know, this kind of thing doesn’t usually happen around here. We live in a tract home near the center of a small town. We have a ‘burban back yard that, yes, has lots of trees but, no, doesn’t qualify by any stretch of the imagination as raptor habitat. So having a big ole’ hawk fly in, land, and pose a scant ten feet away was rare and momentous. For me, oh great adorer of all things wild, it was akin to an angel sighting. I was struck. Moved. Awed.
And then it flew away again. The warp in the time/space continuum righted itself, and the world returned to normal.
But then this morning I got an email from some friends who live outside the next small town over:
“…We’re inside out of the cold and I hear a scratching sound that sounds like a cat scratching on the wall….I turn around looking behind me and at that time Nola say’s “oh my god It’s an Eagle” We look through the glass door and sure enough it’s a huge Golden Eagle standing on the railing working it’s claws…..It turns it’s upper body takes a real good look at us and like slow motion bends it’s legs straight down and just launches straight up expands it’s massive wings catching some air and glides away..Didn’t even flap it’s wings…it was incredible. Pure deep golden brown.. Looked extremely healthy…..we are still smiling…”
And now I’m struck, moved, and awed all over again. (And a little jealous. THEY got an eagle.) I wonder what’s going on? We’re having some strange weather right now, way too warm with lots of rain that’s melting all the mountain snow prematurely. Low areas are flooding and I’ve seen numerous hawks flying over the hills where I walk Dane the Mangy Rescue Mutt every day. Usually, they don’t return until spring. Has the unseasonal warmth tricked them? The scientific part of my mind is intrigued.
But there’s this older thing down inside me, too, perhaps in my brain stem (involuntary body control) or amygdala (emotions and memory) that greets these wild creatures as messengers. When this old thing stirs and rises, it often feels like something uncoiling in my stomach. There are certain kinds of stimuli that tend do activate it, like hearing a hawk cry echo off the hills, or when a dry puff of wind brushes loose hair across my neck, or when something rustles in the dark, or when I sense a potential pattern in the smattering of random events that populate my day. It’s an involuntary, physiological response that I’ve had since I was a child, one that I’ve always just accepted and carried around with me in my pocket like a knife or a compass. It’s a valued tool and I like it. I listen because it tells me things about the world that I need to know, things my busy conscious mind doesn’t usually notice. It whispers stories about big things and old ways, warns me when I’m in danger, tells me when I need to pay attention because something important is happening.
It uncoiled yesterday when the hawk came, then again this morning when I heard about the eagle, whispering something about wild things calling. It filled me with a deep sense of longing. I think I’ll take Dane and head back up into the hills now, climb the ridge to the top of Widowmaker where I’m finally alone with nothing but mountain ranges stretching across the horizons. I need to climb today, up into the wind and sage brush and sun and silence, where I can shake off the world, take my mind, and throw it far away up into the sky. Let it soar for a while.
The red-tailed hawk told me so.
copyright Dia Osborn 2011