Saturday, January 16, 2016
I was sitting at the drawing table, trying to keep my spine straight as I finished the last of a tedious couple of months of edits and revisions to a how-to book I put together 15 years ago. One doesn't really "write" a how-to book. One puts it together.
I entered the last edit on p. 230, pasted in the painstaking revision of a six-page Resources section, every entry and detail of which had been obsolete, and sent the dang thing off to the publisher. Don't get me wrong. It's a good book. How-to's just not my bag, never was.
I took a deep breath and started a status update for Facebook, the little crutch/reward system I lean on when my work threatens to grind me to powder.
"Just finished an incredibly tedious, months-eating rewrite, edit and update of Natural Gardening for Birds, a book I put together 15 years ago for Rodale Books. The thought that I might now...
And before I could continue with
get to do something I want to is a heady one...
a great big dark shadow swooped through the feeder area just to my left. A roar of wings as doves and finches, sparrows and cardinals exploded in panic. I was off the drafting stool, lunging for my camera, and sock-foot skidding to the foyer window before you could say COOPER'S HAWK!!
My first photo was diagnostic, but not stellar. I was skidding to a halt, after all. So was she.
My second photo was The One. Jesus Mary and Joseph what a beautiful killer she is, clasping the branch with her crooked yellow hands, her eye ablaze, her outer tail feathers exclamation points!!!
Sure, there are branches crossing her, but I love this photo. She's landed in that birch like she was hurled there.
My third photo is her leaving in pursuit of juncos and white-throated sparrows. She wound up diving right into a brushpile Bill created about a month ago, literally dove into the center of it trying to get a sparrow. Came out empty fisted, beat deep into the woods. Total elapsed time from seeing the blur of her incoming rocket to her departure: about four seconds. Raptors make my heart beat faster. Accipiters make it fibrillate.
It didn't take long for a big smile to creep across my face, as I looked at the photos and it hit me that my Dear Old Dad was mighty proud that I'd finally shoved that damn book across the finish line (again), 15 years after I did it the first time.
And maybe he sent that beautiful Coop to say Huzzah! and Life Goes On! and Join the Party! and maybe just Hello, Julie. I'm here. You are accompanied.
He works with hawks. Hawks are his apports, the gifts he sends me from the other side.
I didn't know that word until my friend Charles taught it to me today, as we compared notes about synchronicity and messages from the departed. Far, far too many perfectly timed gifts arrive on his doorstep and mine to be chalked up to happy chance.
And the synch-up contintued when my friend Caroline from South Dakota (via New York) posted a link today to an interview with photographer Ken Van Sickle. Everything he said about photography resonated deeply with me. Perhaps my favorite thing he said was