For only the second time in my life I got a close up and personal look at a Northern Harrier. It’s a low-flying hawk that is huge---it averages 17 to 24 inches tall with a wing span of 3 ½ to 4 ½ feet. The first time I saw him last week he was sitting on my deck railing not more than ten feet from my window. His back was to me and the first thought that popped into my mind was, how did a rabbit get up there? At first glance, he had a similar sized silhouette as a big buck rabbit sitting up on his hunches. My juggle-gym of a bird feeder was near-by and I think the hawk must have been hunting a chipmunk that feeds underneath with the rabbits. The second time I saw him he was feasting on his prey underneath a pine tree at the back edge of my lot and when he left the ground he came right toward me in his flight. I feel sorry for him. He belongs in counties south of here this time of the year and by a country marsh, not by my puny cattail bog in the city. Mother Nature is doing funny things lately and if she keeps insisting on rearranging the patterns of nature then I’m glad she assigned this hawk to me. If I see him again I’m going to name him Harry and makes sure he knows my dog isn't dinner.
I was reading other widows’ blogs a few days ago and it struck me how many of the themes, analogies and emotions we write about are so similar. It shouldn’t be surprising. From the bottom of time until now I doubt that the seasons of love and grief has changed much. We can read period literature and see that while the verbiage used to express our feelings is different through the centuries the emotions are the same. It’s bred into our DNA to care for one another. And yet…there are always exceptions to the rule. Always a Northern Harrier somewhere in the world that has lost his way or a super-pod of dolphins that no one can explain with 100% certainty. But I like the thought that I’m not alone in the sea; I have a pod of widows swimming along side me in the virtual world who value similar things, feel similar ways and are making similar wakes in the water.
Do you think rudeness is also in our DNA or is it something some people cultivate like a summer garden? Before Don passed away we used to go a VFW once a month but the place wasn’t very wheelchair friendly so I’d just run inside to get their roast beef dinners as take-outs. It's in the country and a popular place for the after church crowd. They serve cafeteria style and one time just as I got up to the food an old lady---80ish---cut in front of me and brought three others with her. She looked at me standing there in my sweats with disapproval in her cold eyes and in a snappish tone she said, "You've been up here before so you can go to the end of the line." Mind you, no one was behind me so their wait wouldn't have been very long even if what she said had been true. Since rudest seemed to be the appetizer of the day I told her it wasn’t my second time in the line, I just got there! She shot back that they were there now so I could wait anyway. (Chick fight---or rather old hens fight at the VFW.) They obviously had just come from church and I was thinking, what in the hell does that woman do when the preacher is talking about love, peace and fellowship? Is she making out a grocery list? Planning her garden? Imagining the guys in choir all standing there naked?
As the fourth person in her party stepped in front of me he apologized for his wife’s behavior. Instantly I felt sorry for the man and wondered if he’d spent their entire marriage doing clean-up duty, trying to balance out his wife’s rudest with his kindness. He was the ebb to her tide, the natural order of things in a microcosm at the VFW. If she was swimming in my pod of widows right now I’d tag her with glow-in-dark paint so the fish canneries could find her easily.
Oh, my, I can’t believe I just said that! Maybe her rudest was something out of the norm, like the Northern Harrier in my back yard. I wish the whole world was forced to keep a blog so we could google what’s going on inside each others heads. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could see if their rudeness is entirely what it seems on the surface? Would I be more forgiving, for example, of the lady at the VFW if I knew she was dying of cancer and only had a few weeks left to live? Maybe. Maybe not and I’d write a catty comment on her post to tell her not to worry about her nice, soft-spoken husband when she’s off battling the angels who guard the Pearly Gates of heaven. See, I can be as priggish as the next person. It’s all part of the natural order of things. Or is it? ©
“Politeness is the art of choosing among one’s real thoughts.”
Abel Stevens - minister/author