I am sitting outside writing this, and when I sat down a hawk flew by with some critter gripped in its talons. I want to thank my father for this being a totally normal viewing for me instead of a traumatizing one. Which leads me to this:
Here's a little story that I often share with others when they want to know what my childhood was like, or when I am trying to explain why the sound of wings flapping near my head still leaves me a bit uneasy.
It was winter-ish, and it was supper time. Supper time in our household meant sitting around the table and sharing food and stories. It also meant not tipping your chair back, or wiggling too much, and acting like a well-mannered human being. I was probably seven, and had broken one [or all] of these rules and had lost my chair privilege for the duration of this particular meal.
Before we sat down to eat, my dad, the local game warden, had gotten a phone call about an injured hawk. He was going to run and pick up the immobile fowl and come back for supper. He jumped in his marked truck, secured the bird by placing it in a brown paper bag [I assure you, this is okay for a bird], and headed back to our house.
Here is where I must pause and let you know what had to happen a lot in these situations: people often called because they had hurt animals on their lawn, under their porch, in their gutters, stuck in their fence, or sometimes, in the grill of their vehicle. And when I say "hurt" I mean that they usually had one paw/hoof in this world and one on the other side, whatever that other side is for four legged creatures. A lot of times my dad would take them out of their misery on location, but sometimes he would bring the animal back to our house as a kindness to whomever called. I could tell some funny stories here, but some of you may have kinder souls than I and so I'll just let you know I have some, and if you are interested in hearing them, give me a call.
Okay. So this hawk couldn't fly, and was basically done for. To put it nicely. But my dad thought that my sister and I would like to look at it up close before he figured out exactly what to do with him. He pulled into our drive, brown bag in tow, and came in to join our supper.
I'm sure at this point my mom gestured to the bag with her dinner fork and said something like, "Is this something I need to clean, make space for in the freezer, or corral in the back yard?" God bless that woman. She once nursed baby raccoons back to health.
The more I write this the more I realize I have so many more stories I could share.
Dad walked over to me-- I was standing up, remember-- and motioned for my sister to come over. "I've got a little hawk here. He can't fly and I wanted you girls to see him." And with that he opened the bag.
And let me tell you: THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT HAWK.
And he flew right over our heads, over our green beans and chicken, and around and around our house. I screamed and immediately crawled under the table, thankful to be free from the hindrance of my chair. My mom sprang into action, waving frantically at the bird, and I'm pretty sure my sister took it like a champ and just watched the chaos unfold. My dad, always fairly unflustered in these situations [A hawk flying around the house? Not a big deal.], simply walked over to the front door and opened it. Pretty soon, though to the girl under the table screaming it did NOT feel soon, the uninjured hawk flew out the door never to be seen again.
"Must have just gotten too cold and warmed up on the floorboard of my truck," my dad speculated as he pulled out his chair, sat down, and cut into his chicken.
We all just hoped the hawk wouldn't find our pet squirrel, Puffy, in the oak tree out front.