Escorted by a hawk

My first job after university was spent prospecting for gold in the Mojave Desert of Arizona. I had many wonderful experiences there in the desert, including a memorable encounter with a hawk. The property I was working was quite large and each day took me to new and interesting areas. One day I went to work in the vicinity of an old gold mine. The rusting hulks of motors and drill bits and old mine shafts were fascinating. About mid morning as I was working my way around and up a small hill I heard what sounded like a rush of air above me. It was a still day and I was curious as to what it was, but upon looking up I saw nothing. Over the next several minutes this happened several times, each time getting a little closer. I knew it must be a hawk, but it was never there each time I looked. I realized that it must be diving out of the sun and that instead of looking back where I heard the sound, it might be better to look out opposite the sun. This rewarded me the next time with a good sight of the hawk swooping away into the distance. I was very bothered by this time as the hawk was getting closer with each stoop. I stopped from time to time, and the attacks stopped, but each time I continued, so did the attacks. I found myself thinking about those sharp talons and wishing I had a hard- hat.

Soon I was forced to give up the march and turn back. It was an odd mix of feelings and emotions to have been defeated by an animal much smaller than myself, which threatened but never actually touched me. Yet the threat was real, and I yielded. As I walked back down to the mining area and down a path to my vehicle, the hawk hovered in the breeze moving up the mountainside about twenty feet above me. As I got farther down the path, it hovered higher and higher above me, and I never saw it when it finally left. I had time that summer in the desert to reflect on many things, and the attack by the hawk was often on my mind. With nature and natural things you usually know where you stand, life is stripped of the many complications we face in the city. With the hawk, there was no question of calling its bluff, it wasn't, it didn't know how. It was merely protecting its territory, and probably its nest the way it instinctively knew. I knew that, and turned away, its as simple as that... and yet perhaps not so in that I am able to reflect on the event, and learn, and to record it.

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