Hawk Medicine

Having what might be described as a Jungian approach to both my art and life philosophy, I try to pay attention to images and themes that feel meaningful or might lead me down a tangential path to the discovery of something interesting or fruitful. Often, I don’t have to be paying attention, things just fall into my lap.

The other night I was in the process of running my kids to their various activities and running some errands in the process. I stopped at the grocery for some necessities. Our local IGA is a great place to stop for a gallon of milk or a last minute dinner item. The other nice thing is that for a small, neighborhood grocery, there is a substantial wine selection and I often browse the wine aisles for surprises. I found a $25 bottle of Dynamite Zinfandel on sale for $9 and decided to get it. A wine guy in Nashville once told me that only suckers buy wine because of the label, and I guess that makes me a sucker as I was really drawn to the hawk on this bottle of wine.

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A little while later, on route to Jack’s band rehearsal, a red-tailed hawk and it’s squirrel prey fell to the ground not 50 feet in front of our car just up the street from our house. We slowly drove by feeling helpless as the hawk twitched it’s last live movements. On my way home, I noticed that the hawk (and squirrel) were still lying dead on the road. I ran home and got a piece of canvas and brought the hawk’s body home with the intent of placing it in my back woods for a more regal place to lie as it returned to the earth. The bird was about 18″ from tail to beak and had about a 2 foot wing span. As near as I can guess, it must have received a bit of a shock from the overhead wires as it went in for the kill of the squirrel walking the wire. I think the post-shock fall to the ground is what inevitably killed it.

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My friend Lisa came over to see the bird and the help me make sense of what meaning there might be in this strange event. We looked up the traditional meaning of “hawk medicine” which can be summed up as having the broad vision to see the whole picture in one’s life. However, since the bird fell to the ground in front of me, maybe the reverse meaning might apply which is the notion of paying too close attention to details and forgetting the bigger picture. I suppose a lesson could be taken away from either idea and I have thought much about these and about the poor hawk now back in my woods, away from the road.

I took tons of photos and kept a feather from which I have already made some sketches. Even in death, it was a lovely creature. What an uncanny mayday.

Turns out that Zin wasn’t too bad either.

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