Monday, February 28, 2011

The Red-Tailed Hawk (And Taking The Time To See What's Right In Front Of You)

I have no common sense. Let's get that right out there. I am the person who can analyze poetry for hours, write term papers in two hours ... and who loses her keys at least once a day. I'll remind myself that I have to bring a toilet paper roll from the giant BJ's pack into the bathroom the next time I have to go, but still forget. I can understand Plato and Aristotle, but knock knock jokes go completely over my head.

One of my greatest weaknesses, as both a human being and as a writer, is that I miss the obvious, as I was reminded yesterday.

I've posted before about my dog Mollie and her affinity for balls.
My golden retriever, Mollie, is passive aggressive.

Most dogs I've owned are very sweet-tempered. My black lab, Sonja, for example, just kind of goes with the flow, is thrilled to see you when you get home at the end of the day, sits at your feet when you're reading a book, is thrilled when you take her outside to play, and so on.

Mollie is just crazy.

The best example of this, I guess, is her obsession with balls. She always has a ball in her mouth, and when you're inside the house, she'll drop the slimy thing on your lap as if to say, "Throw it, throw it, I want to play fetch!" The logical response to this action, of course, is to pick up the ball, walk outside, and start a rousing game of fetch.

Um ... nope. You throw the ball once and Mollie goes running after it, retrieves it, and comes back to dance around your feet ... and refuses to give you the ball. After you try to pry it out of her mouth a few times to no avail, you give up and go back inside ... at which point, Mollie comes and drops the slimy ball in your lap and the cycle continues.

Even more annoying, though, is when you give her the ball back and say, "No, not gonna do it right now" or something like that. She hides the ball under heavy pieces of furniture and scratches at it until you lift it up, straining back muscles in the process, so she can get the ball ... and, two minutes later, drop the slimy thing in your lap.

Well, I was having a lazy day yesterday. A very, very lazy day. I was engrossed in a book (Sammy the Bull's memoir, in case you're curious ... I do have the strangest literary journeys sometimes) and, when Mollie started barking, I figured I'd get to a good stopping point and start lifting up couches.

But Mollie kept barking consistently, which isn't like her, so I finally looked up, and she literally had her nose to the window. I got up to look out the window, and imagine my surprise to see a hawk in the tree right outside.

It was absolutely beautiful, something I'd never before realized about hawks. It was so close that I could see every detail, could easily identify it as a red-tailed hawk based on its tail feathers.

The hawk had put up with Mollie barking without comment but evidently sensed my movement when I went to get my camera. It flew to a higher tree, and I wasn't able to get a good shot of it. Still, I watched it until it flew away.

I was reminded of Stephen King's novella "The Body" (and of Rob Reiner's excellent movie adaptation, Stand By Me), the part where Gordie LaChance encounters an unspeakably beautiful doe, something so unexpected and purely, innocently, naturally gorgeous. He's on a journey with his friends to go find a dead body, and the doe shows up while he's "on watch". It is a moment of peace and awe that he often goes back to in times of tribulation.

This hawk was kind of like that for me ... and the fact that I almost missed out on seeing it because it's all too easy sometimes to ignore Mollie's yapping is not lost on me. It's strange where you get life lessons from sometimes ...