Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I've thought about tattoos.
I like them. I don't think I'll ever end up with one.
I don't think I know myself well enough, nor am clear enough on what is solely me, to think I could choose a symbol or image that would represent me that permanently.
We are riding down an extended path, alongside a rural airport runway, and I am scanning the fields beyond the fence on my right looking for coyotes or deer as we ride. The varied shapes of the lightening streaking over the mountains to my left are a distraction, as is riding to avoid rushing the somewhat slower child in front of me, but I still can't believe I totally miss it. Of course, the child in front has not, and calls out to her father to look. He continues to converse about how close "it" is, and I keep looking, now backwards, across the fields for the animal they've seen. Now I overhear him say "I've never seen a hawk that close" and suddenly my horizon becomes higher, but no spread wings there. I stop, and turn around to pedal back the way I came, as do the father and child now behind me. I am suddenly aware of deep yellow eyes far more alert than I am just 18 inches or so away on a fence post along the trail, the fence post I have just ridden up to. Slow. Stop. I would not have approached this close knowingly, but here I am, and now we watch each other. He turns his head side to side to make eye contact with the others as well, we are literally arm's length away and at the same eye height. I don't know why he didn't startle, other than the fearlessness of youth, there was no snake in his talons to keep him rooted. Maybe he too was watching the lightening approach across the peaks to our west, calculating how long until he must take shelter from the late afternoon rain. Finally he silently lifted off and flew a few hundred feet further away on the fence to alight on an identical post. I have to admit, at such close quarters, I debated the possibility that he might lash out with those sharp talons and beak at the tender flesh of the small kids around me watching so quietly. I wonder if he also debated the possibility of us harming him. For a few short moments though, we held the space in mutual interest and respect.
We sit in the family-run bakery, cinnamon rolls as large as a breadbox in front of us on our tiny table. (ok, precision requires me to admit they are 7 inches across, large enough to overlap the small cake plates they sit on.) There is bright sun outside the window, and people in shorts with the kinds of bags and backpacks that betray us all as vacationers - bug spray, beach towels, suntan lotion, water bottles, hiking shoes the obvious contents. The TV is blaring morning news and the first report is about Bush, a different sort of hawk, and the convention, and the claims he is making about the inroads in the war on terror. The next report is about bombings and many commuters dying on their way to work in another part of the world, and yes, it feels so remote compared to the scene in front of us that it takes a few minutes to sink in.

I don't understand how we can claim an inroad in the war on terror when there are so many countries torn apart by it, and when there is so little anyone can actually do to catch every needle in every haystack. Less can I understand how our actions so far in this war have done anything but create more terrorists. Still, it strikes me what a delicate dance this is, keeping us (the American public) paranoid enough to believe the government needs to act to protect us, and keeping us positive enough to think that we should elect the same administration because it is making progress in this "war." Is this the dance of a hawk? Not anything like the one I watched along the bike path. Maybe we need some new terms, rather than "hawk" and "dove" as I feel nothing like a dove at this moment.

The cinnamon roll got set aside for tomorrow, when I won't have a television in the background ruining my appetite. There is much more to be said and done on this, but my children are ready to to play in the river with our dog so I shake off the futility worn like an unneccessary parka in the high desert sun.

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