2.26.2010

The Sister Retreat and the Hawk Gift

I think I'll finish out the week with one more gift to share. A gift so powerful and inspiring, I am humbled and speechless... well, almost speechless. This is a rather long story but some experiences in life deserve the full context. It takes place at the farm where the flowers grow that I use in my art.

I spent three days at my sister's farm this week, about an hour's drive from my house. I've written about this place in previous posts. You can catch up here and here. It was just the two of us spending time together. My brother-in-law is in Mexico on a fishing trip, my husband stayed home to catch up on projects. Mary and I were silly with excitement to catch up on news that often gets missed in emails and phone calls... inside news, heart and soul news, as opposed to outside news, everyday events - work, kids, grandkids, friends, family, although there was plenty of that, too. But we treasured this time for deeper observations, insights, sharing in ways only sisters can - sisters can be by blood or by bond. We happen to be both.
But to the hawk gift...

I arrived late one afternoon before Mary returned from errands. Her little farm is 5 acres of vegetable gardens, greenhouses, fruit trees, with forest, vineyards and other farms surrounding it, so it seems like hundreds of acres. It's located  in a beautiful river valley that has become a center for Southern Oregon vineyards. There are two vineyards for neighbors and many more dot the landscape within 20 miles. So, there I was roaming the winter garden, peeking into the greenhouses where spinach, lettuce, beets were popping up. Checking for new asparagus shoots, viable carrots, savoy cabbage, giant leeks. I always get a goody box to take home. Then, I sat on the deck, staring at wintery sky, letting my neck and shoulders release tension. As the afternoon waned and cooled, I returned to the house, grabbed a magazine, and found a comfy chair by the front window.

Mary with her bounty

Winter in the green house

Before I could find my way to the first article, a burst of squawking pierced the silence. For some reason, I knew immediately it was the hawk. For years Mary and Greg have talked about the resident hawks, a mating pair that resided on their land. They perch on fence posts and fruit trees in the garden, looking for meals. Probably nest in tall firs or pines on the property.

Several years ago, one of the hawks reacted strongly to a visitor staying at the farm who was, shall we say, not so mellow. The hawk became agitated and flapped at the windows, perched on the roof of the house, even took up a position on this person's car, leaving an abundance of droppings behind. This went on for several days with the hawk staying close to the house. When the guest tried to nap, the hawk flew at the bedroom window and made so much noise the guest became visibly shaken. Mary knew the hawk well and was alarmed at this odd behavior - not at all typical for a hawk to dwell so close and disrupt human activities.
When the guest left, the hawk returned to the trees. And, never again has anything like this occurred. It returned to normal hawk life, hunting, soaring, gliding, nesting. Appearances increase at certain times of the year, like now, as they approach mating and nesting season. Perhaps, this was a nesting female who became agitated by an unfamiliar and intense visitor.

I've spent a lot of time at the farm over the years, but I've never seen the hawks. Only heard the legends. So, it was with tingling anticipation that I jumped to my feet and went to the window scanning the trees. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a swift shadow disappearing across the front yard. I moved from window to window looking for evidence. From the back door I looked out at the garden, and still no sign. Suddenly, a large gorgeous red-tail with a magnificent wing-spread glided right in front of my eyes, maybe four feet off the ground, and across the garden away from me to land on a short, bare, apple tree.

I can't overstate the beauty of this display. It left me wide-eyed, catching my breath. I watched it for a long time and finally decided to go out to the deck to get a better view. As I approached, it flew farther into the garden, to one of the far fence posts. I was fortunate to have another sighting on the afternoon I left. Mary and I were talking by the wood stove when the squawking began, then the same pattern of a shadow across the yard disappearing out of view. We walked to the back door together, and there perched on the garden fence posts closest to the house (maybe 25 feet away) were two magnificent birds, the larger, probably the female, turning her head to watch us in the window.

The hawk glided right in front of me behind this garden gate

Mary believes the hawks are guardians of their land. They spend a lot of time in or near the garden, watchful sentries atop fence posts or fruit trees. This farm, as I've described in other posts, is where our large family gathers for birthdays, holidays, weddings, for fun and celebration, for respite. And Mary and Greg are the loving stewards who welcome us unconditionally. The hawks seem to have a special relationship with Mary and Greg.

This may not seem like such a riveting experience except that I've always loved hawks as a totem of special meaning. I pay attention when they show up in my life. And, this was such a strong encounter for me that I've thought of it non-stop since returning home. If you feel a connection to the hawk after reading my story, I'll leave you with some added hawk background. The following is from Animal-Speak, by Ted Andrews (Andrews died last year, but I'm sure he resides forever in the natural world he loved):

The Hawk
"Keynote: Visionary Power and Guardianship
Cycle of Power: Spring and Fall Equinoxes - New Moon"

"Hawks are the messengers, the protectors, and the visionaries of the air"
"It awakens our vision and inspires us to a creative life purpose"

Andrews also discusses the hawk as an expression of intensity and vital (kundalini) energy with the number 14 as symbolic. They can live up to 14 years and stay in the same area for that long. They are a particularly fearless, keen-eyed raptor. There is much more to learn from this powerful, beautiful bird, that Andrews describes in great detail. Andrews says it will guide you to, "use your creative energy in manifesting your soul purpose."

Like the hawk, soar to great heights, unfold your creative potential fearlessly.

With gratitude to Mary, for every little thing.