The blue sky stretched out above me as an all encompassing joy. The trees were busy doing whatever trees do in early spring when old leaves lay scattered about in crispy applause for life and new ones are an internal nudge pushing out toward the light of day. Two squirrels were playing tag between the trees and our bedroom roof line, scurrying about just as they do in the early morning light, making galloping noises like miniature horses in a tiny child’s imagination. Several bluebirds were busy carrying small twigs to a future home; early signs of spring seemed to be everywhere.
Somewhere between the bare limbs and that everlasting blue, two red-tailed hawks circled, so high one could discern them only through shape and gliding wings. To me they seemed to float on unseen spiritual currents rather than fly. Like the Native Americans, I have always considered sighting of hawks and eagles to mean messages from Spirit.
“Look!” my husband exclaimed. “There are two more.” He pointed up to an area slightly behind us, just over the dogwoods beside the driveway.
As I glanced in the direction he pointed, I noticed two more that were flying much lower. We could see their feather patterns, beaks, and underbelly easily. “Four hawks,” I mused more to myself than my enthralled husband who loves nature as much as I do. “Whatever does it mean?”
“Well, they are flying in pairs of two,” he smiled, placing his arm around my shoulder. “Maybe that’s a sign for us.” Gently I kissed his cheek, caught in one of those mystical moments uniting man, spirit, and nature.
Suddenly, our moment stopped as we heard a tiny, piercing scream. It did not come from the hawks, but from somewhere closer to us, nearer the ground. Obviously, it came from a small animal nearby, sounding an alarm. The brief, high pitch intensified, as if an alarm signaling imminent danger had been thrust into the forest like a knife into soft butter.
My husband and I looked first at each other, wondering whether to stay or hide; neither of us had heard that level of terror shrieked through the forest before. Then we looked up to the sky. The last two hawks dived instead of circled, a unit of two acting as one. Lower and lower they came, until they landed full force upon the uppermost bare limbs of an oak tree not fifty feet away.
One of the squirrels disappeared quickly into a crevice caused by a rotten, dead limb in the side of the nearest tree. However, the other squirrel had been mid-roof line when the piercing warning sounded. Quickly, he dived headfirst into the open gutter, navigating his way slowly to the end. We could see only his ears just above the gutter’s edge, trembling. Obviously, he did not wish to be a hawk’s version of Chateaubriand for two. I cannot blame him.
The moment stretched slightly into two moments. However, it felt like an eternity. Would the hawks see the squirrel? Was our presence between the two enough of a deterrent to keep the squirrel safe? We did not know. Yet, we stood absolutely still mimicking the quiet forest around us. No birds chirped, no leaves rustled underfoot, and no squirrels twittered back and forth with each other. The once alive forest felt like emanate death.
Suddenly, the hawks flapped wings as they flew into the blue fathoms. I noticed the other pair circled nearby, as if they were two parents watching, waiting, to see how their youngsters hunted. The little squirrel’s ears twitched briefly, and then slowly he lifted his eyes just over the edge of the gutter’s edge. He waited. We also waited.
As much as I loved the hawks, as much as seeing them so close felt like a kiss of Spirit into my soul, I also felt compassion for the little squirrel. My annoyance at his early morning rooftop excursions paled in comparison to what I only can describe as love for him. I witnessed his fear. I felt part of his fear, part of his desire for life, part of his wanting to really live fully. I also felt the hawks hunger. All of it seemed to be part of a Whole to me, yet far beyond my rational thinking. For a deep, quick moment, forest enemies and lovers united as One in my soul.
“Look,” my husband said, pointing at the grass at the edge of our small yard and into the edge of the woods. “The bluebirds are back.”
And they were back, all six of them flying to and fro from our azaleas to the grass and back again. The squirrels began to chase each other across limbs, onto the roof, and back to the tree trunks. A Red-headed woodpecker became the enemy of insects located in an old pine, as his rat-a-tat sound bespoke of his own dinner. Just like the woodland nature, I came back to my own feelings again, renewed with the joy of being. Enemies, friends, lovers, danger, and safety – all felt Whole to me, lusciously complete and alive with that special Spirit that makes us joyful.
“Isn’t it all so special? All of it, just the way it is,” I asked my husband. He took my hand as we crunched leaves on the way to the rocking chairs on the back porch.
“It certainly is.”