There were ice patches on puddles. The rain was steady and cold and the sky that dank gray that looks like the sign of eternal winter. Wolfie and I were climbing a steep, muddy trail. He chased squirrels, and when they corkscrewed their way up trees, he stood at the bottom looking up, his head cocking back and forth. I swear he was trying to figure out a way to climb after them and herd them in the upper branches. Bounding back after my whistle, together we walked higher, passing the sweet scent of cut sour cherry and beech trees left in piles by the Park crew along side the trail. Water in raised droplets lay scattered in Wolfie’s fur. Lifting my head I first sensed and then saw movement above and coming down the slope of the hill. A red-tailed hawk glided through branches, tilting right and then shifting to tilt left, as silent as the sun, so smooth and easy in his element. He suddenly rose, extended his wings and came to rest on a branch fifty feet in the air. I did not have to move. My sight-lines were direct. I unpocketed my small binoculars, and moving slowly, brought them to my eyes. He was looking at me with that steady, unflinching regard, with the eye that says “I am your equal and maybe your better. I can fly.” The rain increased. Wolfie patiently sat next to my feet watching the woods. I pulled my cap tighter, put the binoculars away and walked to the crest of the hill. The hawk did not move.
© Mike Wall
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