I've decided to repost a few blogs now and then that I've posted at various other times. For those that have read before apologies... but this is going to be home for awhile, so I'd like to keep them together someplace virtual. To those that haven't read them before... enjoy.
Several years ago I was friends with a falconer. He had rescued a red-tail hawk with a bad wing and nursed it back to health. The bird was housed on the campus of SUNY Purchase and we drove there one day together, on a day very much like today. The fireworks were exploding in the fall trees, the sun crystal in the blue sky. I held the hawk on my arm for a moment. He was heavy. Solid muscle. With piercing eyes that cut through you. He was capable. Built and bred for one thing… to hunt. My friend and I walked with the bird up the hill to the start of a forest. He let the hawk fly and it immediately went to the top of a nearby tree. My friend explained that it was very important to let the hawk hunt, to keep its instincts sharp.
What followed was a lesson in instincts. We followed the hawk as it flew from tree to tree. Finally stopping for a long time atop a massive oak. We watched for a long time. Then with a sudden burst, its wings spread slightly... and it dove. It hit the squirrel as it ran along the branch. The squirrel squeaked in terror that could be heard far below. The hawk shoved its talons into the squirrel's back and then let itself go limp. The squirrel clung for dear life onto the bottom of the branch, suddenly supporting not only its own weight, but the entire weight of the hawk too. It was only a matter of time. But they hung there for a few moments, prolonging the inevitable. Finally the tiny claws tired and weakened and finally let go. The two spiraled down quietly and my friend walked over and calmly covered the squirrel just as they hit the ground. He gave the bird a bit of raw meat while he quietly smothered the squirrel himself.
The trick of dependency is to fool the hawk into thinking that it can't hunt without you. To train it to give over its hard won prize of fresh meat for a morsel of dried meat. The hawk needed only to keep flying and find its own way, and yet it chose to stay in the safety of the world it had become accustomed to.
Our instincts tell us to hunt. But our need for comfort keeps us all on the arm of the falconer.
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