The Gift of the Red-Tailed Hawk

rt hawk flight

The cry of the Red-Tailed Hawk rings out across the morning landscape, high and piercing.

I follow the sound and see the large, lone bird, soaring on the air currents. It is very visible against the crisp blue sky. I love seeing the hawks soar; I am in awe of their power and strength.

I also love them for their stillness. I often see a solitary hawk perched silently in the high branches of a hundred-year old oak tree that is in the middle of our neighbor’s corn field. I see it there in very early morning, or just as the sun is setting.

I am tuned to hear the Red-Tailed Hawk.

For years, a pair of Red-Tailed Hawks nested in the back of our five acres. It was a massive nest, at least 40 feet up in an old oak. I wanted to observe them, but they prefer seclusion, so I never went back there during nesting season.

All season long, I could hear the cry of the young hawks, and then when they fledged, I often saw them flying around and near our property. The young birds seemed to stick close to home when they first began to fly.

I am always grateful to see the hawks. Not only is their beauty mesmerizing for me, but they remind me of grace. They remind me of the grace in my life.

When I see the Red-Tailed Hawk, I wonder what I would be able to see, if I could fly high on the air currents.  I think about their excellent vision, and I remember to step back from the details of my life and take the long view.

What can you see, when you step back and take the long view of your life?




The Crow Reminder

crow flock oak

We were walking across the abandoned school yard when I heard them. They are always the noisiest birds around, so they are easy to spot.

It was our neighborhood flock of crows. (A flock of crows is actually called a “murder” of crows, for some odd reason, but I digress.)

This morning they were congregated in a big oak next to the last house on the road, and they were causing quite a ruckus, for reasons known only to them.

The crows seem to me to be the bad boys (and girls) of the neighborhood. They always seem to be causing trouble and lording it over everyone else. They are noisy, confident, cocky, even.

Their only real competition is the blue jays, most of whom have gone south for the winter, so the crows are temporarily head of their fiefdom.

When I was growing up, I was such a good girl that I could never be a bad girl. I didn’t even have the guts to try out being a bad girl. Not that this is something that I am particularly proud of. Life was just simpler and very polarized back then. Between the two, good girl seemed to be the better option.

Now my life is more grey than black and white. I enjoy the crows. And, for the most part, I admire and appreciate them.

They are clever, resilient, and quite resourceful. They are also highly intelligent.

But what I like best about them is that they are rambunctious and playful. Every fall, they assemble in the black walnut tree in our back yard, and they pick off every walnut that still remains on the tree, for no good reason, except to see them drop, it seems.

They, along with their relatives, the ravens, are associated with trickster energy.

In mythology, tricksters challenge authority. They break all the rules. They are mischievious.

I need trickster energy. I need to challenge convention, and to step outside of the box. I need to be playful. Today, the crows came to remind me of that.

Where do you need trickster energy?

The Last Clover

last clover too

This clover has survived a foot of snow, a deluge of rain, and a lot of brisk winds, all in the last few weeks.

Clover is very common in the ditches and fields here. My farmer neighbor planted a swath of it at the edge of his corn field two years ago, and he cut it a few times over the season, to feed it to his cows. It has now spread over to my side of the road, and this one has somehow escaped being cut by the road maintenance crews.

I was amazed to see this blossom, because I haven’t found anything else recently that is still blooming. This morning it is covered in frost.

Sometimes it is in the most ordinary things that we find beauty.

My soul needs these moments of beauty. When I saw this, it pulled my mind out of its trance. I loved the color and delicate-looking nature of it.

I think all of our souls need these moments of beauty, and I also think that they are all around us. It is just that I miss most of them because my mind is pulled in so many directions as I am walking.

Today I recommit to myself that I will pay more attention as I walk, and that I will really see the beauty that is around me. This clover has taught me this.

Where do your moments of beauty show up?

The Awakening of Sunlight in Snow

berries high relief

It is warm and sunny today. After many cold, cloudy days in succession, this is a welcome change.

At midday, I walk down the driveway for my walk, and I’m immediately aware of the warmth of the sun on my jacket. Even though it is only the beginning of winter, the sunlight makes me feel really good, like I do in the springtime, when everything is waking up.

I can feel myself waking up to everything around me: the bright blue sky, the glistening bits in the snow, and the big chunks of snow that are falling off tree limbs and roof lines, as things are just beginning to melt.

I turn onto the road, and there is a breeze blowing in my face. It’s chilly; it comes directly off the snow-covered farm field across the street, and it wakes me up too.

It is like I see more of the landscape when the sun is bright and the air is crisp. The birds that are feeding on the seeds at the side of the road are more visible than they are when it is dark and grey. The silhouettes of the trees are clearer against a clear sky.  Red berries stand out against the skeletons of the bushes.

I also interact more with my environment when it is clear and sunny and bright, than on those days when I’m hunkered down against the grey. Everything is in high relief, like a picture that has very sharp resolution.

All of this is an invitation to wake up, to my walk, but also to my life.

As I breathe in the crisp air, I just feel very grateful and alive, and I wonder where all of that vitality goes when it is darker, and more grey. I renew my commitment to feel awake, alive, and aware, when I’m out on my walks, especially during the long, grey winter ahead of me.

Aliveness and vitality are everywhere. It is just that sometimes I have to look a little deeper and wider to see them, and engage with them.

What wakes you up?

First Snow

first snow too

All sound is muffled and everything is still. Snowflakes are slowly and steadily drifting to the ground.

There is something magical about the first snowfall of the year. Every year, I experience this feeling. For me, there is a sense of wonder, as I see it all with beginner eyes.

Through the intervening seasons, I have forgotten the immediacy of the rigors of winter. I am seeing and feeling with a childlike sense of awe and wonder.

This makes me curious about how I see my life, as I live it, day to day. I wonder what would be possible if I were able to come to it with more of a sense of beginner eyes.

Could I recapture some of that innocence of seeing? Could I feel, again, some of that feeling of amazement at the most ordinary things?

How can we come to our lives with that spirit of freshness?

Who I Want to Be – Two Ninety-Year-Old Friends

fuzzy plant

Harper The Dog and I were – you guessed it – on a walk at the park when I noticed a man and woman coming slowly up the path towards us. The woman was using a walking stick, and she was moving very slowly.

I asked Harper to sit, as I do for all passerby’s, and when the man reached us, he stopped to talk. Almost everybody stops to talk to Harper; he’s quite the attention getter.

His wife caught up to us, and we had the most delightful conversation. They lived in Woodstock, about 20 miles away, and they said that they come to the park often.

Animated, they told me about how they love living in their house in Woodstock so much that they have hesitated to move into a smaller house, even though they don’t really need all the space they have.

They told me how much they love their walks in the park, and seeing the colors change in the prairie all through the seasons. I love that too.

She told me about a dog that her grandmother had, when she was a little girl, living on her grandmother’s farm.

It was clear to me, just from a few moments of conversation, that they loved their whole lives, and each other.

They loved to stay active, and they loved being out in Nature. They love it so much that they frequently drive 20 miles to the park.

Then, he told me he was ninety years old.

I loved this couple immediately. They inspired me, with their clear commitment to grab life and live it to the hilt. With their commitment to remain active, they were exactly the antidote I needed to counteract all of our cultural beliefs that aging is a slow, painful decline into inactivity and death.

We said goodbye, and they moved at a crawl, up the steep hill that Harper and I had just come down. I marveled at their vitality and their positive spirit. I felt so blessed that they had come across my path that day. What a gift.

They are who I want to be, with however much time I have.

Who do you want to be?

The Tilling of Potential

tilling potential

Today I was walking with my dog Harper on the edge of a newly tilled field. Harper was exploring the field, looking for treasures that might have been churned up when the field was worked. He is a particular fan of corn kernels that didn’t make it into the combine.

I was enjoying the brisk November sunshine.

It was just last week that Al and his son Jordan were tilling the field with a disk harrow.

I love it when they till the fields, exposing the rich, black chunks of earth that will lie fallow until next Spring, when the earth will be ready to receive the seeds of a new crop.

There is such beauty, to me, in all of this potential. The field looks to me like a field of potential.

It is hopeful: what might appear dead right now is actually teeming with life below the surface, and the earth is readying itself to receive the seeds that will spring into life in just a few months time.

This makes me think about how much untapped potential lies within us.

What if we think of ourselves as a field of potential?

Imagine that you are a rich, fertile field, ready to receive the inspiration that will carry you forward into you into the next phase of your journey. Sit quietly for a few moments, and allow your inner wisdom to inform you. What potential lies within you?


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