Friday, March 6, 2009

My Moment

Rebecca over at Delta Duck wrote about the moment that made her. She was able to crystallize one specific moment when she became the person she is.

I can't break it down that easily. There are many moments that have combined together, but one of the moments, actually, two of them helped to instill in me many of the thing that I hold dear.

I love the old movie "Stand by Me". I think that that movie really is a great representation of how it is to be 12 or 13 and discovering who you are and which path you are going to take. That movie reminds me alot of my early teen years. It was me and two or three close friends exploring the people and places around our homes in upstate New York.

Luke and I hiked a lot. We would leave home and be gone for hours doing nothing but climbing trees and following streams. One particular day we found ourselves wandering through and expansive field of straw that stretched as far as we could see. The sound of a mockingbird punctuated our conversation. We joked with each other and told stories as we trundled along, our hands outstretched and caressing the tips of the grass as we passed. We followed the natural trails, wondering who made them, and found ourselves descending towards a thick wood.

We continued along beneath the trees, the sunlight creating patterns on the carpet of fallen leaves. The sound of water filled water filled the air around us and the air grew moist. The ground fell off in front of us and what had been a trickle of a stream cascaded down the rocks in a thirty foot fall. At that moment, I heard a scream from over head. I looked up and through a hole in the canopy I saw the underside of what I would later find was a red tailed hawk. The image only lasted an instant, but it was amazing to me.

It was only about ten or fifteen feet above us and its wings were outstretched. It had pulled its bright orange talons forward, as if it was about to grab something. Its claws seemed huge. I pointed it out to Luke, but it was gone. The image of a hawk, its talons outstretched, burned in the back of my mind.

It would be years, almost two decades, before I knew there was such a thing as falconry. I drove five hours and attended my first meet. There were a bunch of these hawks. The sun was low in the clear cold sky. We had met at McDonald's and then split up. I followed at the back of the group, and parked my car. People milled about near their cars at the edge of the woods, talking and gearing up. One man had his bird in the air. I couldn't see it. I knew it was somewhere in the trees. Then, this one guy put his arm out and whistled. A hawk, big and brown, dropped from a branch in the woods. Its wings flared, its talons reached.

And I was hooked.

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