The Morning Mail

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Gray Hawk Down

The arrival of the Sharp-Shinned Hawk at the Downey household created quite a stir.
The following day after sighting a hawk eating one of our songbirds, we found a dead hawk in our driveway. We aren't sure how the guy died, but it wasn't pretty.

When we checked again, something had carried him off. Nary a feather remained.

The laws of the forest prevail. I would believe that if we lived in a forest... the desert, I guess, also has its rules. The old adage, "Birds of a feather stick together.." only applies until the hawk appears.

We all experience hawk sightings in our lives. We run, but sometimes we can't hide.
We need to look the hawk in the eye and settle the score. I know, I know...the hawk is big and scary and has sharp talons... but we need to understand our fears and face them head on.

We study the hawk and learn his habits... particularly his feeding habits. Once we understand the hawk, we no longer fear him, we know him. Armed with this knowledge, we move forward living side by side with the hawk. We know who he feeds on and why. We don't make ourselves fodder for the nest. We are no longer victims of the hawk. He doesn't even give us a second glance. And for that matter, we don't even consider having him for lunch either!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Hank the Hawk Visits El Paso

Meeting the Hawk Halfway

Yesterday my husband, Mike, saw a hawk in our backyard munching on a sparrow. We live in the foothills of the Franklin Mountains- the beginning (or the end) of the Rockies in the United States.

Thanks to our son-in-law, Scott, who lives in Alaska with our daughter, Rebecca, we learned that this is a Sharp-shinned Hawk. I plan to attach a photo of him with this post, but Mike took the picture through two panes of glass- hence it is not as crisp as we would like.

Having a Hawk for a neighbor- even just if it is until April when they head north- is daunting. I first thought, is our cat, OJ, safe?

Probably, because this Hawk- or a Sharpie- as they are called, is only about 15 inches long. Would you believe the female is larger than the male? Hawks and other predator
birds mate for life. So his lady love is not far away.

We must now accept the fact that our sparrows, finches, and wrens are at risk. I don't think he would take on our pair of morning doves. But who knows?

We must shake hands with the Hawk and let Mother Nature work. Even if it is hard to see the tiny little creatures being caught in midair. The laws of nature must be respected.

Perhaps I'll name him "Hank." It seems only appropriate since he has now become part of our family.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Secret Life of the "Foodie"

Lately I am hearing of more and more addictions to the Food Network. I thought my husband and I were the only ones who had given up watching the evening news for Emeril Live! Rachel Ray is on the fast track to mogulville with her three shows about food, her magazine and now a talk show.

What is this obsession with food? Since my husband has semi-retired, he has enjoyed preparing meals. We trade off on the food prep. Chopping and slicing delivers a sense of control. At least we have control over this one act, today. Neither of us may not be able to end war and solve the problem of world hunger, but we can saute and grill with the best of them.

Cooking is a creative act. It is necessary to concentrate on the tasks at hand, less one cuts a finger or burns an arm. Cooking forces one to concentrate on food and to imagine the end result as one of great pleasure.

As Emeril once said, " Who knew that we could create a whole network around food?"

We need outlets on this planet that in the simple act of 'doing' actually restores us to wholeness and sanity.

Try your hand in the kitchen. Invent a new recipe and submit it here!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Catch the Morning Sun

Winter mornings are great occasions for observing activities that we often ignore in more active seasons. Today I watched our cat, Oreo Junior- sun herself against the stone wall in the backyard. OJ does this every morning. The northern exposure of the yard only allows slivers of sunshine to filter into the yard during the early hours.

OJ lies on her back. She rolls. She plays with a brittle leaf. She soaks in the sunshine.

She is not alone. Both of our dogs- Riley and Dillon- also take turns in this little corner of paradise.

These rituals by our animals got me to thinking about animal instinct and behavior.
How do they know that recent scientific studies show that regular doses of sun every day help the body fight off disease?

Last summer, Riley suffered an injury to his knee. He was in such pain that the Vet thought surgery was in Riley's future. Riley had other ideas. Each day he laid on the cool deck by the swimming pool until he began to pant from the heat. Riley would then head to the covered patio for relief. He repeated this ritual several times a day.

When we returned to the Vet for surgery, no operation was necessary. The Vet said that had he not known which knee was injured, he would not have been able to tell. Riley was totally healed.

Observation of our animal friends results in good life lessons. Take time out during the winter doldrums to observe how our pets deal with illness and seasonal discomfort.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Ode to 2006

It seems that most folks are launching into new habits in 2006. They have sore muscles from heading to the gym. We are craving carbs, but we all know they are the enemy in the new millennium.

What I propose, is that we all stop what we are doing just one day a week. We do nothing, perhaps on a Tuesday. We sit on the porch and stare at the cat sunning herself against the rock wall. Our fingers never touch the keypad to any techno product. Our televisions remain dark.

We retreat to the family room where flames flicker in the fireplace. We pick up the book of a favorite author and beginning reading. The words melt into our souls. Our lover brings us a warm drink. We sigh. We smile.

Ah, so this is what I have been working towards? This silence before the flames of both the sun and the fireplace provide warmth and healing.

I've been rushing, and tearing around for this one moment.

Let's make solitude and comfort our new year's resolution. I picked Tuesday. But the day is up to you. All you have to do is:

Be happy. Be silent. Be well.