Tag Archives: hawk

#whyiwrite: October 20, 2018

I should probably title this post, All the Reasons I Don’t Write, instead of using the National Day on Writing hashtag #whyiwrite.  But instead of enumerating a list of excuses, I will use this occasion as an opportunity to write.

I’ve established a regular walking practice.  I’ve learned to carry my walking shoes (and my flip flops) with me in my car, leaving me ready for unexpected opportunities–and no excuses for not walking because I don’t have the right shoes.  My camera is also a motivator for my walking–I love to take those daily photos and walking gets me to interesting locations where I find the fodder for my photography habit.

My writing practice fares better when I have an external expectation keeping me on track.  I wrote and posted daily during the month of April when my students and I took on a 30-day poetry challenge.  And I posted weekly photography challenges for years when the iAnthology was my audience.  So now, I know I need to create some reasons for establishing a regular writing practice–one that takes me beyond the more work-related writing that always happens–you know, the lesson plans, the emails, the proposals and reports.

So I will begin today with some thoughts about birds.  If you’ve visited here before, you have probably noticed my obsessions with egrets, including the post I wrote about the egret being my spirit animal.  But yesterday and today, it was a different kind of bird that was called to my attention.

Birds of prey are difficult to photograph–and even to get a close look at without a camera.  They tend to soar high above our heads, their sharp eyes on the lookout for prey.  Yesterday I spied a hawk perched on a sign along the beach-side cliff.  It sat, overseeing the beach and was not at all bothered by me approaching from below to photograph.  Somehow it seemed appropriate that the sign it was perched on said, “Pack Your Trash!”  While I’m not entirely sure, I’m thinking it’s either a red tailed hawk or a red shouldered hawk.  I thought at first it might have been an osprey–I’ve seen them before in this area, but this was clearly a hawk of some sort.

Hawk_packyourtrash

And today, not far from this same spot along the cliffside, I noticed a man looking intently high up on the cliff.  When I looked up, he drew my attention to the large bird of prey sitting on some bare branches above us.  I knew immediately that it was an osprey (I had done a bit of research when I got home yesterday).  He pointed out the fish beneath the bird, which he had been watching for a bit.  I stood under the branch, trying to capture a photo of this beautiful bird.  Other people came by, commenting on the beauty of this elegant sea eagle.

osprey lunch

I found myself thinking about this coincidence of spotting two birds of prey on my walks on two consecutive days.  When I watch egrets, I think of their patience, their calm and regal manner as they stand knee-deep in the ocean water.  They seem solitary–in great contrast to the seagulls and smaller shore birds that ofter hang out in groups, running with the tide.  When I think of birds of prey, I think of fierceness and independence.  They seem to take control of their environment, taking the long view of the resources below.  They are brutal and efficient, moving sharply as they take their prey, gripping firmly with sharp talons and sharper beaks.

Do I have something to learn from birds of prey right now?  Is this a call to be more decisive, to be more fierce and determined?  I know these beautiful birds have me thinking…and writing.

I know that I write to think, to better understand myself and the world around me.  I write to reflect and to express, to slow down and pay attention.  On this National Day on Writing I renew my commitment to daily writing…and to more frequent posting here.  How will you celebrate the National Day on Writing?  Why do you write?

Outside

I spied this gorgeous hawk sitting in a tree not far from me as I was walking today.  I slowed and carefully positioned my camera, trying to capture this image.

photo-1

And as I watched and then continued my walk, a short 25 word story (or maybe the beginning of something more) was brewing in my head.

Tucked in behind the gas station and across the street from the McDonalds, hawk oversees wild space…what is left of what used to be.

I took a minute at the stop light and jotted notes down in my phone to remember this thought when I got back home.  Thinking about what used to be interests me.  What caused developers to leave this wild space untouched?

Last week a parent in our class sent us this article about going outside to write when you feel stuck or uninspired with your writing, saying that it reminded her of us and our classroom.  (Such a great compliment!)  I’ve shared it with many others…and was thinking about it this morning as I headed outside for a long walk.

I knew I had lots of writing to do today (beyond my blog post) and told myself I needed to get outside and be active before settling down to work.  To make the prospect more appealing, I planned my walk with a mid-walk stop at the local Starbucks and had my iPhone handy for any interesting photo opportunities.

As I started my walk I noticed that my “monkey mind,” as Natalie Goldberg calls it, took over.  I could feel my attention pulled in a million directions as I noticed sounds (cars, birds, breeze, leaves crunching, bicycles whizzing by…), smells (the smell of water in the curb drains, car exhaust, the damp of foggy air…), sights (the lone purple flower in a sea of ground cover, scraps of paper interwoven in the brush, leaves blowing…), and physical feelings (the sheen of sweat building on my shoulders, the push of air as cars rushed past, the uneven sidewalk under my feet…).  Before I started my walk, I had thought I might continue on a theme of water photos started yesterday with a walk on the beach, but the first half of my walk didn’t offer any interesting possibilities.

And then I noticed the hawk.  It literally stopped me in my tracks as I looked closely, noticing the beauty of this bird.  Crows and pigeons are pretty commonplace on my walks…and hawks are mostly noticed from a distance, flying high above.  I loved the opportunity to look closely as I angled my lens.  He watched me as I watched him.  And then he spread his magnificent wings and took to the sky.  I only wish I could describe the sound of those large, powerful wings as they lifted the bird from the branch.

As much as people complain about “screen time” and lament that devices are keeping our young people indoors, inactive, and uninspired, I find that it is my device that gets me moving, heading outdoors, and paying attention to my surroundings.  As always, we need balance in our lives.  Opportunities for solitude and times to interact.  Playtime and sustained work.  Time in nature to notice and question and wonder and time with our screens to produce, write and connect.  It doesn’t have to be either/or…can’t it be both?

How does your device (or devices) impact the ways you interact with the outdoors?