Some time ago, on the way to a special event with our church, my youth leader pointed to a brawny brown hawk perched atop a gnarled limb. As we drove out of town, he explained that hawks are territorial and are often easy to spot in the same areas time and again. Since then, I've always noticed hawks in the thicket, stoney gargoyles, shepherds of the roadside, silent guardians of the route, surveying the highway, listening for mice and other rodents in along the path.
I notice hawks so often in the fall and winter, that I even made up a game for longish car trips. If we are driving to Tulsa, Dallas, or Kansas City someone almost always starts it. It is one of those games that the most competitive people can't resist, but they rarely beat me.
The game starts out innocently enough.
Each person in the car says, "hawk, and then a number". Keeping track of their own score. Occasionally they will get confused by someone else's number and get off track a little bit, but when the competition gets going, 'Hawk, 35". Hawk, 40" most people can manage the simple addition of one or two hawks at a time.
The rules are simple.
The hawk must be resting, no flyers allowed.
To discourage cheating, someone else in the car has to be able to verify the hawk's existence in some way. It is tough for the driver who can't always whip around and see if there was in fact a hawk on the limb. People usually point or say, "over on that fence post," which is usually sufficient in the early stages of the game. As the numbers increase and people start to lose, a more substantial verification may be necessary, "he is really fat and has some white feathers on his head."
And that's it.
Hawks are easy enough to spot, if you know what you are looking for.
Brown clump of leaves impostors.
Feathers fluttering in the wind.
Solitary stealthy airship.
Talons on a post.
My favorite hawks to spot are perched on a green road sign: Tulsa, 59 miles ahead. They are only a few feet from the car, wind whipping their feathers. Or in the heat of the game, a lucky find is a hawk on the ground, "black hawk down, in the grassy area of the cloverleaf, munching on a mouse!"
Once, a fortuitous driver spotted an immense electrical scaffolding, and shouted out about a dozen hawks on the metal rungs. It was the most anyone had ever seen in one grouping before. Completely unheard of, as hawks are rarely in groups of more than 2 (which is also scarce) along the roadside.
The game ends when you arrive at your destination. Once you get into town, you can usually bet that your hawk sightings will end, so the game can actually give you anxiety about getting home, because if you could just find one more hawk in a bramble of trees before anyone else sees him, you will be the winner of the game. Which is worth nothing more than bragging rights....and the title of 'hawkeyes' for a day or until the next road trip.
This is my 'slice of life' blog.
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