Monday, September 16, 2019
One of the features I love the best about my tiny apartment is the big window over my desk that looks out on a tree-lined street of older, well-kept homes that leads to the green hills beyond. There is plenty of open sky and lots of small, non-human neighbors to watch and, especially at this time of year, beginning to keep a lookout for the first signs of the colors of Fall beginning to touch the tips of the leaves.
On Saturday I was sitting at my desk reading emails while my 6 year old great-grandson was sitting on the love seat playing an educational video game on the PBS Kids website. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of brown soar past my window. Looking up quickly I just made it in time to see a huge hawk circle a tree across the street and disappear among its branches. I called to Xavier to bring his handy-dandy binoculars which he always brings to my house when he visits to do some bird and insect watching with me. As he was scrambling to find where he'd put them down last, the blur of brown erupted from the tree and landed on the very top of a very tall telephone pole. The pole was almost the same color as the hawk and, while he sat absolutely still, he was hard to see at first. Finally Xavier located his binoculars and together we took in this magnificent sight. In the almost three years that I have been living here, I have never seen a hawk here in this residential area. The river is only a few blocks south of here and that is where one is more likely to see birds or prey and a host of animals and fish, a much better hunting ground, one would think, than a row of houses and concrete. In any case, there he was in all his glory. He sat for a while, barely even moving his head, then with a sudden woosh of his very large wings, he took off down the street and headed for the hills in the distance. He did not put in another appearance that day or any day since. Xavier was thrilled to have witnessed such a sight (the most exciting thing he'd ever seen in his whole life, as he put it). I was just glad that I had looked away from my laptop in time to capture the moment for the both of us.
I have to wonder how many magnificent things we miss when our heads are constantly bent down and our eyes glued to a screen. How many beautiful, moving, amazing things, the ones that go on around us all the time, do we miss because we think what is down there is more important and fulfilling than what is up there. An email cannot compare to the sight of that mighty bird in flight, in an area where he would not normally have been seen. A Facebook post can't compare to a brilliant sunrise or sunset. An Instagram message can't replace the thrill of a flock of geese in flight across the sky in a perfect formation, or bald eagle soaring, or bunnies playing tag on the neighbors lawn in the wee hours of the morning. Nothing down there can teach us anything more important about life than we can learn by lifting our eyes up and seeing what Mother Nature can teach us about living a life filled with wonder. Why see the world second hand when you can see it up close and in person?
I will be keeping my eyes open and watchful to see if our new visitor comes back. In the meantime, I think I will turn off my screen for now and watch the show that is going on outside for a while ... and I don't even have to pay for a hook-up or a monthly fee!
And so it is.