Thursday, October 15, 2015

hawks and chipmunks

 I have my favorite place to sit when I eat my breakfast or just want to relax and read.  This kitchen window I look out of allows me to survey both the near and far landscape: the hostas beneath my window that grow along the walkway to the far side of the lake where the trees are ablaze with Fall color.  My perch here at the kitchen table makes watching the changes that naturally occur as we progress through the seasons easy. It might not be the same as active participation in the outdoor fun, but vicarious thrills for me are more accessible and better than nothing. 

The lake naturally dominates the landscape. It is so expressive, showing me at a glance what the weather will be like when I step out the door. It can be calm as an aesthete deep in meditation, reflecting all its secrets back into the air above it, or it can be a wild and uncontrollable beast, roiling its surface with such ferocity that waves with whitecaps tumble toward shore in a frightening dance that keeps even the most avid fisherman ashore, lamenting the passing of another opportunity to be fooled by a fish.

The nearer view seen through that window incites a variety of responses, from annoyance to awe.  Awe is what I feel when the grasses and flowers I see through my window are in full bloom, swaying in the breeze, sweeping the air clean and leaving the fresh smell of newly born buds, soon to be flowers. The annoyance comes from looking at the thousand new tiny crabapples from the tree to my left that have fallen on the walkway and need to swept aside again for the third time that day.  Those tiny orbs make walking on the concrete walkway a frenetic game of hopscotch as we try to avoid dragging the pulp and juice of the stomped on fruit into the house on the soles of our newly red stained soles. But, however annoyed I feel by the crabapple mess, the chipmunks who live in my garden feel even stronger about the dietary bounty those miniature fruits provide.  They (I think there are more than one of them. I can’t really tell.  They all look the same to me and I’ve never sen more than one at a time) feast incessantly on the marble sized treats, leaving neat little piles of leftover bits and pieces on each corner of the stoop. Those cute (I know I’m not supposed to think of those furry destructive rodents who also chomp on my Hostas and tunnel throughout the garden as cute) striped squatters can be seen scurrying around, picking the best fruits for their constant nibbling, and leaving those little piles of detritus they’ve created for me to clean up.  Even though they are a nuisance, I still enjoy watching their industrious antics, marveling at how quickly they can be move. One second they are on the stoop licking their chops, the next second they have disappeared, diving under the mulch into their hidey holes. 

But contrary to what I want to think, my little slice of heaven is no Nirvana. A few days ago my slice of natural beauty outside my kitchen window was visited by the most incredibly frightening creature I have ever seen up close.  If the window that separated us from each other hadn’t been there, I would have joined those chipmunks  beneath the mulch, hoping that concealment would be enough to save my ass. Seemingly out of nowhere, a huge grey hawk swooped down and landed right in the middle of the crabapple strewn walkway.  He was no farther than ten feet from where I sat trying to feel safe with only a pane of glass protecting me.  He must have felt just as safe seeing me there looking at him, because he simply raised his head to get a better look around and ruffled his mottled gray and shiny black magnificent feathers with a ripple of muscles from his razor sharp beak to his highly honed talons. Then just as suddenly as he appeared, he took off with a leap into the air, circled around the tree and came back at me as if to break through the glass, grasp me with those awful talons, and drag me off to a quiet place where he could dine on me at his leisure.  But at the last second he turned his body sideways, giving me the full effect of his daunting prowess.  His wingspan had to be 4’ at least, or maybe I was so startled to see him come at me as he did, that I am giving him more than his due.  Seeing such an incredible natural killing machine so close that I could almost touch him, may be making me exaggerate a bit. But I would hate to be that close to him if he was hungry.  

It’s been a few days since the hawk entered my world. It seems somewhat quieter. There is less hustling around. The aura outside my kitchen window has become like the dimly flashing, far off leftover lightening after the thunder and wind and jagged bolts of furious energy has passed by, leaving the air still charged with possibility.  And I have noticed that either those chipmunks have gotten much neater (there has been no sweeping of the stoop where I expect to find piles of bits and pieces of tiny crabapples) or they have moved on. But I suspect  that hawk has something to do with their absence.

The moral of the story?  There is none.  That’s just the way it is.