Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000 00:27:40 -0700
From: John Snyder
tumbled upon a hunter this afternoon, a day filled with muted tones.
This trapper wore gray feathers, and captured the world within steely eyes. A north
wind blew at my back as I pedaled towards town. The large hawk blended with the steady,
strong wind to hover ten to twelve feet above the ground. He, maybe it was she, didn't
twitch 'er a muscle to stick there, in mid air, like a living still photograph. I
certainly wasn't sweating my own effort, sailing along at 15 mph, occasionally
at 22 mph
over frozen dirt.
As I pulled closer, a cock pheasant exploded out of the mix of snow and wheat stubble
from a point directly below the hawk. I slowed. The pheasant sprinted at low altitude
uncharacteristically close mouthed. I'm acquainted with that handsome rooster. He's oft
times talkative and boastful around the ladies. Though at the moment, he was flying
towards some sanctuary beyond the silent boarders of humility. The hawk gave a half-hearted
chase for a few strong flaps of his wings, landed on a parallel road, glanced nonchalantly
at the Chinese take-out dinner escaping into the brush, then turned his head to look at
Wasn't sure, but think he might have been one of my riding buddies from an area several
miles north of where we were at the time. I immediately cranked the bike around in a
U-turn to start home just in case it was his supper time instead of just
fiddling-in-the-sky-and-teasing-the- geeky-pheasant time.
Cutting into the head wind slowed me down a might. Four miles an hour uphill into the
arms of a gale resembles pretty good going when one contemplates the infinite
bicycling air speed. High cadence kept my legs warm enough. Couldn't say the same for the
ridiculous fingerless gloves I wore for some odd reason. Once to the top of the hill, I
chanced to look over one shoulder. The hawk had followed, this time at an altitude of at
least 75 feet. Ah, she was my old avian chum, the one who sometimes dines with and on our
other wee pals who dwell in the fields. She recognized me, or at least she recalled the
funky recumbent bike that she races alongside on lazy summer days. With a quick,
neighborly flick of a wing tip she spun back around towards the south.
Upon arriving home I stabled the bicycle then hiked down a sandy single-track towards
my own warm nest. Glancing up from shuffling feet, I spotted oldest son a half-mile off
barreling along the same route that I'd just crossed. We traded a quick "Hiya!"
as he whizzed past on his mountain bike, broad back straight in spite of a 25-pound pack
loaded with paper books and electronic gizmos. His face glowed mottled-red from the cold,
and the wind, and the strength, and the speed of youth.
Now indoors, I dug out a hunk of left-over beef steak, and a bottle of chilled brew
from the larder. Tasty. And a smile arose as the slumbering molecules of life, barley and
bovine, began to mingle with my own, to be reanimated anew as human flesh for a short
while until my turn comes to be another's meal.
Aye mates, a toast to the lone predators and sailors of the winter prairie. A toast to
the balances and cycles of Life.