Friday, July 17, 2009

Things are already looking up

During some of the more trying times of my life, I'm followed by birds. Not just any birds, but big ones- birds of prey.

This made sense in Wisconsin- where I lived before New York. When I was pregnant with Anevay, I sometimes took off in my car, far away from Madison, and took long hikes through the woods. I saw Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, and Cooper Hawks. Others, too, but I've never been able to remember the names of species. One of my favorite places to go was Ferry's Bluff, an extraordinarily beautiful place that I used to climb so that I could look out over the Wisconsin River. I saw many pairs of Bald Eagles there, just as I did in Iowa, where I visited some huge resevoir with Anevay's dad, just a few months before she was born.

But the birds started appearing in the city, too. I woke one morning and looked out my window to stare into the eye of a hawk. I lived on the second floor of a house on a busy street, a couple blocks away from the fire department. Not a usual place to see hawks. This bird came back to visit many times.

And then there was the time I was driving and a hawk swooped directly down in front of my car to grab a mouse. I nearly hit the thing.

Don't even get me started about my weird experiences with crows... Not exactly big birds of prey, but very communicative beasts....

I have so many stories from this period, but among the most amazing are my encounters with Golden Eagles, a bird rarely seen in Wisconsin. I used to take my dogs to the water every morning to swim (I lived on the isthmus, a few blocks away from Lake Menona). One morning I got to the park and Sasha, the smarter of my two pups, got all growly. I looked across the grass and saw a groundhog- not unusual, I know, only in the next second, a Golden Eagle swooped from the sky and grabbed it. It was amazing. After this, I saw these giant birds (their wing span is just bigger than that of a Bald Eagle) everywhere. Not only during the mornings, by the water, but once over a golf course where I attended a wedding, and once by a very busy university hangout area called the Union. And all the while, the hawk visited me, up until a week before Anevay was born, when I moved from my apartment.

Because of these strange encounters, I nearly named Anevay 'Peta', which is a Blackfoot name meaning 'Golden Eagle'. I realized, however, that she would get terribly teased, and that people would pronounce the name as they do the acronym PETA.

Here in NY, I've also had my experiences with big birds. The first was up at Columbia. I was going though a particularly trying time, and was trying my best not to bawl like a baby while sitting under a tree by the journalism building, when a hawk swooped out of nowhere and picked up a mouse from the grass about ten feet away.

I've been in somewhat of a state lately- and again the birds have appeared. I've seen the one in the picture above every day this week, right here in Williamsburg. Yesterday it followed Anevay and I home for a bit, flying from tree to tree over McCarren Park.

Not to sound like I'm nuts, but there's something really comforting about seeing these birds. I'm really in the moment when I see them, and forget about my money woes, job search, aggrevations. I'm not one to talk about animal spirit guides, but there have been a couple of times when I've thought something weird was happening...

Today I leave for the Catskills to go camping. Looking forward to seeing whatever I'll see. Wonder if there will be some big birds waiting for me.

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