Rain and breath, drops of me coming in and moving along through that which greets it. The birds scatter, their rush away a signal the hawk has come into the garden. Stillness folds the garden in. Everything becomes the hawk’s presence. Walking through, slowly, looking for where it has come today. Alert both of us to movement. Air sluicing through the evergreen boughs, water tumbling from the rocks and back into the pond, an endless stream of coming and going. I find it sitting high up in the box elder. My greeting rises, “hello there beautiful”. Small today, its feathers sleek and laying along the slim body. Unlike the days of cold, drafty rain, when it appears three times this size, everything puffed out. Calling to him now I see the picture I took of it above me in the mulberry, head bent, one eye focused straight down on me. Even through the photograph I feel the piercing vision of that look, acknowledging my presence, mindful of where we are in each other’s moment. From the photo, made large on my laptop’s screen, I also know the length and fierceness of the talons gripped around the branch, holding steady. This knowing given me by that one picture, opens my knowledge of him now that it is here once again, above me in another tree at the edge of the garden. Its head turning noticing everything within and without the sky, leaves, grasses and piles of sticks. Stretching a leg down it rebalances, leans forward, wings out and swoops away. The air moving out behind to swirl in its own eddies, as the water in the stream.
While perched for those minutes the birds seemed already to relax, their song piping up here and there; a tentative flight from the bamboo to the pines. Usually the squirrels come out first, and, if the hawk is too close, they shake their tails vigorously and taunt it with their chatter. How they decide the hawk is not there to feed in that moment I do not know. But, somehow they do. At other times hawk flight careens through the garden spaces, inches or feet above the paths and between all the growth. Their acrobatics at times startling in fluidity and speed. Coming straight up the sidewalk, rounding the arborvitae, flipping up, wings spread full, belly exposed to us on the deck, going round the shrub the little birds dive deeper within, to settle on the electric line above them.
That evening it was ever watchful of us and sat as we watched back, whistling and talking to it. Suddenly its head moves left, attention focused on the small maple grove. There, we spot another hawk resting on a long branch. Their calls begin, back and forth, one then the other. Are they calls of recognition or intimidation, territorial markings? We laugh at the joy in that which has brought this into our lives. To watch, to be a part. To tend the trees, and pond, grasses and shrubs for their use.