Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I go walking regularly in a park near my home. In the past I have spotted some magnificent hawks ghosting across the grass in search of ground squirrels (or possibly people's cats). At one time I counted five large hawks sitting up on the ballpark lights like gargoyles.

Recently, there haven't been many around. I blame the searing heat. It's hot enough to smelt iron on the sidewalks there. In fact, if I were one of those hawks, I'd hang out in the bathroom where it's cool and there's water.

The day before yesterday I was slouching along in the outdoor "sauna" trying to lose a ton or two of ugly weight. I hugged the trees fringing the park since they offer a degree of blessed coolth not otherwise afforded by my usual path. As I was passing a wooded portion, I heard a rustling.

There in the brush was a pair of tiny hawks about the size of those game hens you find in the grocery store. They were such pretty little birds with their brown cloaks, mottled tan tunics, banded tails, and white caps.

I stood entranced for some time, hoping they'd come out to see me. One of them did fly up to the tree overhead, showing me the bands on its tail feathers. He sat up there and screeched at me, hoping, possibly, to lure me away from the other. Clearly they were young and just trying out their flight muscles. I wondered if perhaps I might have been the cause of a maiden flight.

I wouldn't have continued on, but I was edging towards heat stroke by that time. The hawks would have to proceed without me.

Today I went looking for them again. My first circuit around the park was fruitless. I was chagrined to think that they might have flown away. However, on my second circuit, as I was exploring the brush near where I'd seen the Coopers before, I felt something hit my cap.

I first looked down at the little piece of bark (glad it wasn't a dropping since I like this cap); then I looked up. It was as if they'd tossed the curl of wood to tell me, "Hey, look up, dolt!"

There they were!

My Coopers had learned to fly and were resting in state in the pine above my head. I chirped at them, hoping they'd come down and visit, but they were much too intelligent for that. I even tried to leave them a slosh or two of my water, but it leached into the blacktop before any of them could get the guts to come down and drink it.

I think by the time I get back to them, my Cooper's Hawks will have flown. I'm so thankful to have gotten to see them up close and share a sharp glance or two.

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