Still life with sparrow hawks


I have just spent ten minutes watching a sparrow hawk perched like a statue on the terrace wall. I swear it did not move even the tiniest bit, but merely watched – and watched. It was a peculiarly spiritual communion, me watching the hawk and the hawk watching – who knows what.

I had just let the dogs in and was struck by the silence. There is usually a fuss from the small birds at the feeders, but at that moment, nothing. The hawk swooped in low, maybe a foot off the ground, darted up through the camellia bush, then landed on the wall. And waited. Even though I was watching it closely-  it was as still as death – I missed the moment when something changed. I saw no preparation for flight, no flick of a feather or wink of an eye. It just left. One moment it was there, and then it had gone. Within minutes the fidget of small birds was back and it was as if the hawk had never been.

This set me wondering. Each time we step into the garden, cross a field, trample through a wood, what do we change by our very presence. What natural sequence of events might we interrupt? Might a bird of prey miss its target because our footsteps are so loud; a doe leave the side of her fawn to lead the danger away from its nest in the bracken; a wood mouse lose its concentration at the vibration of our approach and fall prey to a predator? Yet we remain blissfully unaware as we tread our heavy path, thinking we are noticing the beauty of our surroundings, yet seeing nothing that is important.

On a different note, I have added another story to the blog. It is called  ‘Still Life’ – and I wrote it after the death of my father in a French hospital. It is not autobiographical, though the setting owes much to that hospital in Rouen. The story won a competition, Write Here, Write Now that was set by  BBC Southern Radio and was broadcast in 2006 – such a long time ago. It was one of the first things I completed after the onset of the M.E. and my decision that the illness was not going to stop me doing something vaguely useful with my time. As an early piece it is perhaps a little clunky, even predictable, but I have a fondness for it. I believe the performance can still be heard on the internet. It was beautifully read. It was great hearing some one else read it who quite drowned out the drone of my own internal voice!

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About SallyJ

I am a writer and a poet.
This entry was posted in bird of prey, CFS, dogs, inspiration, M.E., ME, CFS, natural world, Short stories, short story, Uncategorized, wildlife, writer, writing, writing competitions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Still life with sparrow hawks

  1. SandySays1 says:

    There is much trith in your comment and humans should be aware of their impact on the rest of the natural world. But, it’s also true that we are part of that world and unless we simple eradicate ourselves, zero impact isn’t an achievable objective.
    Sandy
    http://www.sandysays1.wordpress.com

    • Sally j Blackmore says:

      Thank you for commenting so thoughtfully.I agree entirely. My thoughts were not so much that it is avoidable, or even regrettable, more that we should remember that it is so.

  2. Jolyrat Jill says:

    Those hawk moments are great aren’t they. When I take the dog across the heath, I love to camouflage myself with the terrain and walk as quietly as I can. Sometimes I just stand and listen – its amazing what you can hear. The eye becomes accustomed to the landscape and learns to see things out of place very quickly or spot the sudden movement of another creature.Unfortunately too many hawk moments are lost in our busy days.

    • Sally j Blackmore says:

      Absolutely so Jill. I find that to really see what is there it is best to walk alone, and as that doesn’t seem fair on the dogs, I do it very rarely.

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