The Hawk

The Hawk

A Story by AnastasiaBetts
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Every once in a while we have an experience that affects us so profoundly, that it changes our perspective forever.

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            There is, very near to my home, a certain stretch of freeway known to locals as the “causeway”.  It passes over a vast expanse of flat land, which upon first glance appears to be nothing more than a sea of weeds stretching out as far as the eye can see.  That first impression is misleading, though, for even in its barren appearance there is a surreal, quiescent beauty that inhabits it.  I’m not exactly sure what it is that draws me to this place.  I’m not sure what it is that pulls my attention out my window as I drive past at eighty miles an hour.   I am sure, though, that every time I pass by, the view attracts my gaze like a one-ton magnet. 


            It started small at first, this affair I have with that particular landscape.  I was driving along one morning, the sun just rising, imbuing the dawn sky with her delicate rose fingers.  Almost imperceptibly, my attention was drawn to a flock of birds, not far distant. 


            Ordinarily, I doubt a flock of birds could draw my attention, much less hold it, but this bunch was different.  Without thinking, I risked a second, more scrutinous, glance. 


              The group was rather large, perhaps as many as one hundred, all moving in unison.  Up and down they flew, back and forth, moving as dancers in a well choreographed ballet.  They were both smooth and controlled, the picture of perfect uniformity.  


             I was momentarily stunned.  Not by the transcendence of their performance, but rather by my own inability to interpret their behavior.  As their movements continued to hold my attention, I pondered their aerial artistry.   Then it occurred to me--they are avoiding a predator.  After a quick glance at the road, I immediately scanned the close-knit crowd for something larger, something moving against the flow of the others, something that didn’t belong.  It only took a moment of searching before I spotted him. 


            He was big, much more so than his prey, darting in and out with the swiftness of a supremely confident hunter.  I was surprised I hadn’t noticed him before, for he was quite conspicuous.  He was swift and skilled, but neither could match his magnificent appearance.  His amber-hued plumage glittered in the newly emergent sunlight; his wingspan spread majestically, parting the flock like a sleek cutter slicing ocean waves.  His movements were effortless and graceful. 


            Reluctantly, I turned my attention back to the road.  In the briefest of moments, perhaps not even a full five minutes, I had witnessed an awesome sight.  And though I couldn’t quite discern the full import of the experience, I knew somehow, that it had affected me profoundly.


            Not a day went by that I didn’t purposefully look out my window, hoping to see an encore performance.  With disappointment, I acknowledged that I was likely never to see such a sight again, but I continued to look with every crossing of the causeway.  These consistent, yet fruitless, observations nurtured within me a love for that isolated island of nature, untouched amidst one of the most populous areas of Northern California. 


            It so happened that during one of these prolonged, slightly hazardous observations I noticed a sign that designated the area as the Vic Fazio Wetland Preserve.  Curiously, I had never seen that sign before.  It’s amazing the things you see when you start to look. 


            Thousands of people drive across that causeway every day.  How many actually see anything?  How many are so caught away in their own thoughts that the world outside their steel microcosm is nothing more than a meaningless backdrop?  How many times had I driven across that expanse of pavement and never noticed anything--the way the tule shifted in the afternoon breeze, or the stark silhouette of the gnarled scrub oak, whose bare branches slept in anticipation of spring?  Once I started looking, really started looking, I realized that the land along the causeway was not the barren wasteland I had once so ignorantly supposed.  It was teeming with life, vigorously alive with diversity and each animal’s struggle for survival.  My eyes opened that morning; I was never guilty of oblivion again.


            A few weeks later I was driving home when my vigilant surveillance finally paid off.  The sky was gray and leaden, with clouds so thick and heavy that it was impossible to perceive an end to one, or another’s beginning.  I confess, I looked across the wetland more out of habit than of any real expectation of seeing something spectacular. 


            That’s when I saw him for the second time.

 

            He sat, perched serenely atop the uppermost branches of a scrub oak adjacent the freeway.  So close did that tree grow, that had I been standing on the shoulder he would have been eye level and not ten feet from me.  I drove past in a fractured second but it seemed an eternity to my hungry mind.  And as the moment hung suspended, I took in every detail, every nuance of that magnificent hawk…

© 2013 AnastasiaBetts


Author's Note

AnastasiaBetts
This experience so inspired me that I actually composed a piece of instumental piano music as well. I guess writing the reflection above just didn't get it all out. Perhaps someday I'll record the story above over the music in the background.

All feedback welcome!

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Reviews

Yes, the best poetries are indeed written in the language of prose. It would be rude of me to give a criticism on such a sweet piece of prose. Let it be as it is. I am already a huge fan of yours works.

Posted 6 Years Ago


AnastasiaBetts

6 Years Ago

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I know sometimes the longer pieces are hard to .. read more
Kenilo Kent

6 Years Ago

I am learning a lot from you and I aspire to learn more. Thank you.

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1 Review
Added on February 23, 2013
Last Updated on February 23, 2013
Tags: hawks, nature, animals, meditation, reflection, life, fulfillment, essay, memoir

Author

AnastasiaBetts
AnastasiaBetts

Los Angeles, CA



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A very busy woman trying to find time, space, and energy to unleash her creative passion! more..

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