Legends

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Hawk Mountain photo

At Hawk Mountain’s North Lookout on October 28, 2016, Laurie Goodrich twice “commanded” golden eagles to turn and give us better looks. Both birds “obeyed,” prompting me to say to Laurie, “That shows the power of your doctorate.” Her reply–“That’s how legends are started”–inspired both this poem and its title.

Like Gandalf, Laurie worked wizardry
–Twice, not once, but twice!–
She told golden eagles in the sky
–“Circle and be seen more clearly”–
And they behaved obediently!

When Gandalf and friends were victorious,
Sauron’s darkening cloud fled away.
So it was for us that autumn day,
As the clouds rolled into the distance
And sunlight began to hold sway.

The Lehigh Valley was ablaze in light!
O’er power plant bright an eagle took flight!
Red-shoulder hawk gave a glowing sight!
Robins flashed by in late-day sun!
What a glorious day of birding fun!

Was it the presence of Gandalf the White
Which made the day sunny and bright?
Does Laurie have special powers
To summon these amazing hours?
I suppose not–but I can’t be certain;
For without doubt, there’s magic on the mountain.

Falcon Tornado

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North Lookout Owl

When I reached North Lookout of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary on September 6, 2016, Rudy Keller told me that earlier five kestrels had been diving at the owl pole. He said, “You could hear the sound of their wings ‘whoosh.'” Another hawk watcher referred to it as a “tornado of kestrels.” That evening, the Sanctuary’s daily report included this note: “Several American kestrels and merlins spent 30 minutes diving at the Owl Pole and then chased each other.” These observations inspired me to write the poem “Falcon Tornado,” in which the owl is speaking. 

 I am the Owl at Lookout North.

Early one morning five kestrels danced round,
From each feathered wing came a whistling sound;
Like swimmers in sync, they swiped at my side
In a vain attempt to force me to hide.

Then a fast falcon, a merlin by name,
Dove and chased kestrels away from their game.
And this bold merlin, preferring me dead,
Targeted talons aimed straight at my head.

Throughout the twirling falcon tornado
I twitched neither eye, nor ear, nor a toe,
But sat in silence — serenely still —
Calmly assure they could do me no ill.

I am the Owl at Lookout North.

Mountain Pilgrimage

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IMG_0855 Hawk Mountain sign

When August comes with sun so hot,
And land is blessed with flowing  crop;
When butterfly skips round and round,
And dragonfly is also found;
When northwest wind picks up its pace,
And hearts begin to stir and race:
Many set out on pilgrimage
To visit rocks of ancient age.

Drawn by wonder of creation
And the magic of migration,
Some will come as they have before,
Ten, twenty, thirty years or more.
In their minds are memories kept
Of wondrous days of birds wind-swept,
Of sunlight gleaming on the land,
And good friends standing near at hand.

Others arrive for the first time,
Including some from distant clime:
One in zeal for conservation,
Varied in their tongue and nation,
These young trainees from many lands
Eagerly offer helping hands;
And through their smiles and what they do
They help to keep the old hill new.

Together all share this wonder:
Eagle first seen at a number–
Then dipping into woods below,
At Hunter’s popping up to show
Its head ablaze like fiery crown.
Then flying along field of brown,
The raptor climbs to horizon,
And over steeple continues on
Its journey of migration flight,
Headed toward day’s final light.

 

Aves and Ave

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IMG_0877 August 15

 

Time may be measured in many ways, including the migration of birds and the calendar of the church. August 15 is significant in both. The date begins the annual fall raptor count at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, and is also the Feast of Mary, Mother of Our Lord.

This poem celebrates the delightful coincidence of the two events falling on the same date.

 

Over water dark and churning,
God’s mind brooded with deep yearning
For companions with whom to share
A good world made with loving care.
And so God spoke; life was begun
With light, the moon, the stars, the sun.
Creation started in God’s name,
And on the fifth day God proclaimed:
“Flying creatures now fill the sky;
Increase, fly free, and multiply.”
And so Aves procreation
Partners with God in creation.

Time sped by, and over the land
Dark shadow lay its heavy hand.
God’s mind again  brooded and thought
Of a new way that might be wrought
To give the earth fresh beginning,
Saving it from death and sinning.
So angel Gabriel went out
To greet young girl with joyful shout:
“Ave! Mary the Nazarene!
In you God’s mercy shall be seen!”
Thus was foretold a coming birth
Of joyous news for all the earth.

Aves and ave meet with cheer
August Fifteen of ev’ry year,
Coming together on this day,
Each observed in a special way.
Up wooded hill the birders mount
To start the yearly raptor count.
And those who follow Mary’s Son
Hold feast to praise what God has done.

Aves! Ave! Signs of Power:
Renewing the earth hour by hour.
Aves! Ave! Tokens of love:
Pouring forth from heaven above.
Aves! Ave! Gifts of delight:
Lifting spirits high into flight.
Birds of the air! Blessed Mary!
In you we rejoice on this day.

Front is Moving, Clouds are Breaking

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This hymn text, the first in a new blog category called “Nature/Raptor Writings,” was first sung in the summer of  2011 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Orwigsburg, PA. Dedicated in honor of hawk watching friends Laurie Goodrich and Ron Homa, it makes use of images drawn from many years of visiting Hawk Mountain. The text may be sung to Beethoven’s tune “Hymn to Joy.” 

Front is moving, clouds are breaking,
winds are coming from northwest
Birders wake up all attentive:
“These days are among the best.”
Climbing rocks of ancient making,
dancing from the rattlesnake;
Watching chipmunks run and scatter,
coming to the owl who’s fake.

Sitting down upon the lookout,
optics raised up to the eyes–
Patient waiting for what’s coming
soon to dot the sunny skies.
Coopers gliding, sharpshin flapping,
falcon racing through the sky.
Broadwing climbing, vulture rocking,
many birds to please the eye.

Eagles golden, and bald also,
make our hearts begin to race;
And the redtails now are coming
keeping up their steady pace.
Monarchs flitting, sometimes landing,
decorations on a tree;
And upon ground voles are skipping,
feasting on a meal for free.

Watch for showers here and there now,
leading to a rainbow sky.
Red and yellow; green and violet;
promise from our God on high:
“I have made this good  creation
that I vow not to destroy;
So I tell you, treat it gently,
precious gift now to enjoy.”

God’s creation filled with glory
of which Wisdom had first sight;
We may join with Wisdom also
in the laughter of delight.
So we lift up songs of praises
to the Holy Trinity:
“Thank you Father, Son, and Spirit
for the gifts of what we see.”