Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You Can See a Lot Just By Looking

Each day, I drive past a golf course where a pair of Red-Tailed Hawks has taken up residence. I see at least one of them there every day, perched in a tree or on a fencepost, patrolling the area for prey. I often have to stop for the traffic light in front of the property, so I have a chance to look for them and see what they’re up to. A few weeks ago, I pulled over to watch the female consume what looked like a rabbit.

This morning, as I slowed for the light, I saw the male of the pair (he’s the smaller of the two) perched in a still-bare tree right next to the road, just a few feet from the passing traffic. He had his back to the road, and was looking carefully down at the lawn and hedges below him, probably hoping to find some breakfast. That particular traffic light is on a slow cycle, so I had plenty of time to study the brown-and-white chevron on his back, notice the loveliness of the patterns produced by the different sized feathers, and note the size and strength of his talons. That’s how close he was – no binoculars needed!

I was curious…did any of my fellow commuters see this magnificent bird perched just a few feet away? I looked around – nope. About half of them were on their cell phones (what do they all talk about??), one woman was applying eye makeup (in the car??), two people were eating, and the rest had that staring-straight-ahead-blank-thought-bubble look that seems ubiquitous these days… Not one person that I could see looked at the beautiful bird, about two feet tall, that was perched right next to the road almost at eye-level.

How much of life’s beauty and wonder do we miss simply because we are not paying attention? I will always be so grateful to my mother, who opened my eyes to the wonder of the world around me when I was just a tiny girl. From her, I learned to appreciate the colors and textures of tree trunks and leaves, the infinite variety of birds’ songs, the subtleties of light and color in the sky during the course of a day, and so much more.

Thanks, Mom. My life is all the richer for you.

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