Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sleepy Sunday and Goshawks

Everyone's gone outside to play, and now everyone gets a nap.
I particularly like how Mr. Bonkers folds himself up like a penknife.

Reading: The Goshawk, by T.H. White.

This is a lovely, odd, reflective little book that Jeff turned me on to. It's ostensibly about his adventures in falconry, trying to tame a goshawk, but it's about a lot of other things at the same time: Nature, solitude, warfare (it's set between the two World Wars, written in the '50s), patience, work, and the relationship of one man to one animal.

This last especially resonates with me. I spend a lot of time walking Dorrie -- not taking her for a walk, necessarily, but walking with her. There is a definite communion involved, and the more I make the effort to imagine why she does what she does, how she thinks, what she sees, the better I can communicate what it is I want from her. I think about this a lot on our walks around the Reservoir, think about it when I stop at a street corner and she sits at my heel and someone calls out of the window of a turning car, "Good dog!" After a day's work and a subway ride home I don't always want to go out in the cold dark evening and trudge around on the streets, but as soon as I clip that leash on her and we set out, I always remember what a privilege it is to be in her company.

This book is about that, some. It's not so evenhanded a relationship -- the hawk is a wild creature, a small insane Teutonic nobleman, and the love only flows one way. But White's focus, and his regard for the animal, and his own flights of thought the hawk inspires -- I relate.
About a year and a half ago I saw a goshawk at the dog run. It's only a few blocks from Van Cortlandt Park, which is a large and fairly wild expanse that borders the North Bronx and Westchester. There are plenty of raggedy forests and wetlands in it, and lots of wildlife -- a coyote turned up there less than 15 years ago. And hawks, definitely. This one was on the chain link fence of the dog run, though, eating something small, and was wholly unconcerned with my presence. I got to within 20 feet of it and just stared. It was an incredible animal. I watched it for a good long time, until it finished its lunch and flew off. I've seen it since then, high overhead, but never at such close quarters. But now that I'm reading The Goshawk I have a feeling it'll present itself to me again, some time soon. I'm keeping my eye out, anyway.

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Blogger Rooie said...

I love those pictures. Mr. Bonkers looks like he's in a tuck position for a high dive. Gizmo sometimes folds himself up so much, and tucks his face so far under his body, that he almost seems to be suffocating himself.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Miss T said...

Beautiful post. I'm glad that you and Dorrie have each other to walk with.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Cara deBeer said...

My favorite part about The Once and Future King was the animals section, and the goshawk is especially brilliant.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Maia said...

Love this post - love the pictures - and I'm so happy that you're posting lots lately. You're a wonderful writer, Lisa.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thank you!

Write we must; we must write. Etc.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Lisa! I had no idea you had a blog. It fucking rocks. Great job. Love the pictures of Dorie and Mr. Bonkers. I'll have to send you a picture of Kira (black lab) and Sander (greyhound). Keep on bloggin girl!


8:41 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hey, Jack! Yeah, send pet pictures. You know I'll appreciate them...

9:09 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

Django will sleep stacked up with his paws curled up in front of his chest and his nose planted straight down on top of them. I think he's getting high from the carbon dioxide he's exhaling.

I love your furry kids, Lisa. I hope some day Alvy joins them for naptime.

2:17 AM  

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