At 5 am there was a skiff of snow out there, but by 8 it was gone. Disappointing for me because I was hoping for a snowy walk with Bear. I leashed her up about 10 and we headed out into the unsettled air, the swirling storm, doing it’s best to get the heck out of the Valley. It had made a little effort, leaving snow on hills just a thousand feet higher than Monte Vista. I thought I should have ventured to the Rock Creek area with my dog, but she loves the Refuge and it’s where she checks and maintains her territory. These are big deals for her, bigger deals than going where no big white dog has gone before.
For me it’s good, too. When I go out with Bear, the big thing is being with Bear. Second to that is looking at the world.
No one was out there on this inclement day. I was barely warm enough but barely is enough. The wind was coming from the north, blowing squalls along the front of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, much like yesterday. At one point we stopped (so Bear could smell something), and I noticed a meadowlark just 8 feet away from us, singing its heart out for us, perched on some greasewood.
Raptors everywhere, notably the red tail hawk that likes the small line of trees and whom I haven’t seen since last spring, and the Northern Harrier couple. The male flew over me, circled, watched me, circled a little lower, got a good view, then circled higher. I could not NOT recite to myself, “I caught this morning, morning’s minion, kingdom of daylight’s dauphin…” The end of the poem is what strikes me most, “No wonder of it; sheer plod makes plowed down sillion shine…”
Wise words to remember at the outset of any undertaking. “Sheer plod” — hard work.
We don’t think of it, maybe, but the grace and beauty of a hawk in flight is what they have given their lives to, what their survival depends on. To me it’s poetry; to the hawk it’s life. Hopkins was so aware of that — in “As Kingfishers Catch Fire…”
“Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.“
Long ago, hiking with the Boys on Bikes in the California chaparral, I would see a hawk and inevitably say, “My love” or I would recite “The Windhover.” One day the youngest among them pointed at the sky and said, “Martha! There’s your love!” and there he was, a tiny speck, far far up there, circling, a red tail hawk. Over time that kid (10 – 12 during this era) even said, “Martha, look! There’s Morning’s Minion!”
That was a “take me lord” moment. I thought, “My god, I’ve had THAT effect on this kid that he will see a hawk and recite Gerard Manley Hopkins.” I had lump in my throat (as I do now, remembering it).
It’s kind of strange, but what I AM is a person who goes out into nature with dogs. Everything else is just because I can’t do that all the time. It’s crazy, but true.
I’ve undertaken a couple more stories for the magazine — and one of them is about Apache pictographs at a local canyon. I will be going up there with an anthropologist, and I’m looking forward to all of it. I think we’ll be doing our interview/field-trip next Monday and in the meantime I need to do a little studying up.
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