We strap on our collection of lenses and survey the parking lot. It's busy here, but not unmanageably so. This will be a good day on Hawk Mountain. I've been meaning to come here since I found out about the place while studying Forestry in college. My return to the East coast has broadened and deepened my journey... Leading me to here, now. Hawk Mountain.
Entrance fees paid, we wade through the throngs of weekend adventurers to find the path upward. There are many people at the gate: A few Boy Scout troops of squirrelly shorts-clad boys in neckerchiefs. People who obviously aren't used to The Outside, but who cling to today's mission. Families with hopeful faces - will they see hawks today? I relate. I wonder the same. I watch them all engage this park and then I shift gears: today I am looking to hawk watch. People watching is a distraction.
You can be in the very best place, but when timing isn't right, you gain no ground. So it is today. We scan the sky from all the vantage points we can find to catch evidence of our migratory raptor friends. Nothing. We sit several times and wait, cameras poised and intent in hand. Nothing. I photograph trees. I photograph my photographer companion. I photograph the sunset. So ends the day.
Two years later I return, this time with my teenage son in tow. Today will be a good day. There is a promise of renewal in the still cool air. Today is the official first day of spring. What better day to hike and survey the sky than the first day of a season of new life? We see as many birds of prey as I did on my previous trip to Hawk Mountain.
Understanding that I'm losing the attention of my kiddo, I suggest that we do some adventurous hiking. There is a boulder field trail here that isn't for everyone, but we're both fit and willing. An hour later, we descend the main trail, jubilant. We leave Hawk Mountain to chase the sunset home. That return trip lands him in the hospital ER to have his hand sewn shut, but that's another story. No hawks this day, just another unique chapter of history written into our story.
Two years later, again, I am in the parking lot at Hawk Mountain. I have wrangled one of my best friends into driving all the way here from our town to do our day of hiking at this location. Why didn't I remember that it takes so long to get here? I know that if we can just get to the trail that it will be a good day. We are in our traditional hiking gear to celebrate this year's last day of summer on a mountain. The sunshine is plentiful, and we're looking forward to seeing some great birds soar.
In that manner, we are disappointed. Again. No hawks. Granted, we got a late start on the day. Granted, I'm not versed in the actual migratory patterns of any of the species. Granted, my expectations might be unrealistic. We eventually put our cameras away and simply immerse in a mountain day of friendship. We explore trails. We work up a sweat. We breathe and live free that afternoon. The end of the day finishes another weird and wonderful summer. We celebrate.
Have you ever redefined yourself with qualities or attributes that never really come to fruition? Through every intention to observe hawks, my own sense of self for years has been that I am a bird nerd, bona fide though it may not be. Hawk Mountain has been a part of the plan to develop this in my self; however, Hawk Mountain and I don't seem to be agreement about our contract.
I look, I look. I seek, I seek. My vision is limited by my own expectation for certain results. I choose the tunnels through which to peer, and that hasn't always worked out for me. You see, rather than setting a higher standard, my expectation has actually become a veil that has prevented me from seeing clearly. I have been missing the forest for the trees. I have been looking in the wrong places. Rather than submitting to the flow, I have been climbing steep trails. And yet, today will be a good day. With or without Hawk Mountain.
This guest blog was written by: Staci
I love to write! I spend a ton of time outside. I have a degree in forestry. I fix computers. I was a mermaid once. "I believe that deliberate living takes time and energy. There is a beautiful grace to the connection we have with our lives, if we're willing to invest. Sometimes the effort itself is a return to mindfulness that allows other aspects in life to gain clarity. Each day becomes a canvas, and my acts boldly brush on the paint of good consequences." ~me