Things started off way wrong, with the best of intentions. I had good reasons why I went over to someone’s place to drop something off around 1:30–and then her apartment complex turned out to be a maze, with 1, 2, downstairs, 3 upstairs, 20, 21, 22, down, up–wait, 7 here? Huh? And with wreaths covering the numbers on the doors, so that you had to brave a sense of trespassing to find out where you were. I wasn’t good at that.
I finally found 25, keenly aware of my outdoorsy California setting (even the stairs) and that sun. Got back to my car–and the fob wouldn’t work. Couldn’t get in. Finally fumbled the key out of the darn thing and got in the Prius.
My face felt sunburned. With the lupus, it doesn’t take long. If I can just get through the next three days without getting sick from this, let’s hope….
I was not a happy camper as I kicked myself repeatedly for not simply ditching the errand altogether.
Got home. Walked in the room to see an email from the person I’d run the errand to, how delighted she was. It helped, definitely. Walked out of the room. Walked back in the room.
And there, after not seeing it for so long, was the Cooper’s hawk on the fence. Big and bold and beautiful.
It saw me and fluttered a few feet away to a perch on the neighbor’s side, slightly uphill, where it kept facing me as it finished its meal.
But when he was done, he flew back to the fence.
Then the barbecue grill (nope, no scrub jays under the trowel.) He called out.
Then the handle on the lawnmower.
Then the nearer part of that handle, the closest perch he could find.
We were now six feet apart from each other, just the window breaking up the space between us. Again, he opened his beak and had something definite to say about this.
He fluffed out his feathers, relaxed. One side of his orange-and-white chest had a feather a bit short, growing in. His wings and back were blue-gray, his feet yellow, his eyes red, his tail folded up like a fan highlighting the stripings at the edges, the tip highlighted in white.
We saw eye to eye, minute after minute. Every detail, every marking, all in close up. Someone told me once that female sharp-shinned hawks are nearly as big as male Cooper’s hawks and look very similar; I can tell you at last that there is no question mine is totally Cooper’s.
He bobbed his head now and looked around at the patio floor between us. At long last, he hopped down and walked around the wooden box, then spread those big wings and broad tail and flew to somewhere in the trees where the dense leaves are still green, always, here. Disappeared in a wingbeat.
It had been ten full minutes of one-on-one. The wild with the wide-eyed.
It took an hour for the finches to come back, and shortly after they did, there suddenly was a Cooper’s again on the very same spot on the fence, not on the hunt but surveying its territory as the birdfeeder flock flinched and fled.
Only, and I don’t think it was just the later light. This one seemed darker across the back and larger, which would mean that we seem to have a female paired up with our male again. Perhaps she was responding to his calls and perches. I could be wrong, but it seems we will again have a fledgling hawk or two investigating the amaryllis pots this spring. I hope. I cannot wait.
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