Into The Freedom and The Wandering

“Set out, pilgrim. Set out into the freedom and the wandering. Find your people. God is much bigger, wilder, more generous, and more wonderful than you imagined.” – Sarah Bessey

Meditations in Motion

This summer, I saw something that was so stunning, so stupendous and gruesome and extraordinary, that I am still rolling it around in my mind, trying to derive some meaning from the incredible scene which occurred right in my own back yard.

It was a Wednesday afternoon. My husband Bill and I were doing laundry. He was upstairs (our laundry room is on the second floor) transferring our freshly-washed running clothes from the washer to the dryer and I was downstairs in the family room reading a book.

I was facing the patio door, which opens to our deck, with my nose in the book, when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something floating down from the sky. First, there was one something, then two, then ten, then dozens of gray, flocculant somethings floating past my field of view and landing on the deck.

At first, I thought the somethings were ashes, and I was concerned that there was a fire in our dryer vent. I ran to the open patio door and looked out as the somethings continued to rain down.  “These are all feathers!” I realized.

I do what I always do when I am excited, confused, or have something to share: called for my hubby. He reached my side just as the last feather landed gently on the deck. “Look! These are all feathers. Where are they coming from?” I was looking up to find the origin of the feather downpour and seeing nothing that would give me a clue.

Bill looked out in the yard and immediately saw the source of the rain of feathers: there was a hawk-like bird sitting in our yard, not five feet from our patio, clutching her unfortunate prey in her talons.

I ran to the car to retrieve my binoculars to get a better look at the bird. We have many red-tailed hawks in our neck of the woods, but this was not a red-tail. This bird was too elegant, sleek and small.

Meditations in Motion

Is it a hawk?” Bill asked. “No!” I breathed, “It’s a peregrine falcon!

Just then a red-tailed hawk swooped down on the falcon, who was sitting on her prey in the yard. The hawk, almost twice the size as the falcon, was trying to poach the mockingbird the falcon had caught, but the peregrine was too quick for the red-tail. The peregrine flew away with her dinner clutched in her talons and the hawk was left to screech his disappointment from the branches of the big walnut tree behind our house.

It was like having a National Geographic movie about birds of prey take place right in our own back yard. All that was left to commemorate this event was a sad pile of gray and white feathers.

Meditations in Motion

When I first began watching birds, 30 years ago, this scene would have been impossible.

Peregrine falcons are native to Pennsylvania, but they were wiped out by the widespread use of the insecticide DDT, as the writer and scientist Rachel Carson so famously documented in her book “Silent Spring“. They were put on the federal Endangered Species list in 1972; no known peregrine nesting occurred in our state between 1959 and 1987.

In the early 1990s, peregrines were reintroduced to several of their historic nesting sites and have since spread throughout the state in one of the most remarkable comebacks of any endangered species. They were removed from our state’s Endangered list just this year.

Peregrines typically nested on cliffs near rivers, but these adaptable birds have been known to nest on skyscrapers and bridges. One of the most famous peregrine nests, in fact, is found on the 15th-floor ledge of an office building in our state capital, Harrisburg.

Peregrine watchers have trained a camera on the nest so that viewers can tune in as the birds lay their eggs and feed and fledge their young. In the 18 years the nest has been in existence, 64 young falcons have successfully fledged, all documented by the “Falcon Cam.

Meditations in Motion

The name of the 15-story building? The Rachel Carson State Office Building. How is that for kismet?

Bill asked me if I thought the falcon would feed the prey to her young, but I said I didn’t think so. This was late July, past the time that young falcons are typically fledged. This was a wandering falcon, maybe even one documented by the Falcon Cam last spring.

Peregrine falcons get their names from the Spanish word “Peregrino” (from the Latin “peregrinus), which means “pilgrim“. After their young are fledged, peregrines are known to travel widely, some as far as 15,000 miles in a year.

I feel like a peregrine lately. Bill and I spent the first part of our married lives raising three boys on a shoestring budget. We valued travel, however, and used a large portion of our precious discretionary funds to explore as a family. We wanted to give our boys experiences, rather than things.

The boys are now men, who have all left the nest, and it is presently our time to wander, Bill and me, to set off on pilgrimages of our own, to get out of our comfort zone and discover the world’s exquisite diversity.

Meditations in Motion

We leave for Spain next week to follow one of the oldest pilgrimage routes in the Christian world, the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. We will be walking the Way of Saint James from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela, ending at the shrine to the Apostle Saint James the Great.

Due to the nature of the walk, we will be unplugging from cell phones, laptops, and all electronic devices. I will not be publishing a blog post or responding to comments (after Monday) until the beginning of October.

At that time, I will probably have lots of vacation photos and stories to bore you with and I look forward to doing so.

Until then, I plan to set out, into the freedom and the wandering.

 

I am linking with Raisie Bay for Word of the Week, Susan B Mead for Dancing With Jesus, Morgan’s Milieu for Post, Comment, Love, Shank You Very Much for  Global Blogging, Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, Esme Salon for Senior Salon, My Random Musings for Anything Goes, and Raisie Bay for Word of the Week.

 

 

 

 

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60 comments

  1. Have a wonderful time. I am sure that you will.

    We, too, have red hawks in our neighborhood, but mostly I worry about them & the dogs. I guess our dogs are just big enough, as the hawks have never bothered us.

    Unfortunately, for now, we’ve had to reign back in our travel. It’s something I’ve always loved, too, and I must say I’m ready for an adventure, but it will probably not be for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an experience! Growing up, bird watching was one of the (many) favorite things I liked to do. Wild macaus, toucan birds, they were common on my side of the world, falcons were heard of, but hawks weren’t many, at least not that i remember.
    Hope you have a great vacation. Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was much more into birding about 10 years ago. I still love it, but I don’t do it nearly as often as I used to. The birds you list sound so exotic to me! I would love to see them in the wild! Thank you. We are looking forward to our trip very much!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Was this intended as humor? (My husband Bill and I were doing laundry. He was upstairs transferring our clothes from the washer to the dryer and I was downstairs in the family room reading a book.) Because it’s really funny. I like your way of doing laundry much more than Bill’s.

    Today, DDT would never be banned from use. The EPA would say it puts too great a burden on industry.

    Have a great time on your trip. I’m pretty sure this is high on my wife’s bucket list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OK, maybe I should have said: “Bill was doing laundry”! 🙂

      Sadly, I think you are right about the DDT. I’m surprised the ban hasn’t been lifted yet. Maybe in the next year and a half.

      Thank you, Jeff. I am very much looking forward to our first visit to Spain and the walk.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Enjoy your walk, it sounds delightful. How amazing to witness that bird ‘documentary’ in your own back yard. I’ve only seen a peragrine falcon in captivation. My husband would have been beside himself. It’s sad to see the demise of the mockingbird but that’s how nature works. Read you when you get back from Spain, and thanks for linking up to #wotw

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love watching the falcon cam in the spring, but seeing real falcons in the flesh is so much better! Thank you, Cheryl. We are looking forward to our first visit to Spain.

      Like

  5. That’s so cool. we had a hawk sitting on a rock near our lake the other day, which was unusual. I hope the peregrines will be coming to visit you again soon!

    Have a wonderful time walking the Camino. I had a friend do it two years ago and it was an enriching experience! I’d love to do it one day myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I had a similar event happen in my backyard in downtown Allentown many years ago. I was sitting out back with what was supposed to be relaxing cup of coffee and a book. And then a cycle of life event very much like this one landed two feet away! Not relaxing at all.
    Hope you and Bill have a wonderful trip to Spain! Enjoy your travels, and I’m looking forward to hearing all about your adventures!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well I’m so far behind in Reader that are now jetting away to your adventure, a trip for which I am envious … you will have a wonderful time and I will enjoy reading about your adventures. I was laughing that you two were doing laundry and Bill was working and you were reading a book … (yes, I know, between loads). Retirement becomes both of you. The Peregrine Falcon story with the feathers – sad. That was the same type of bird chasing the bird in mid-air that I told you about. He/she was around the neighborhood for the longest time … I am glad I did not see feathers flying because hearing the shrieking bird that he was preying upon stayed with me for a very long time. Enjoy your trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so far behind in Reader that I’m just going to start from right now and not worry about the backlog. The peregrine story was sad, I know. I just have to keep reminding myself that a peregrine can’t afford too many misses or he will starve. We did have a wonderful trip! Thank you, Linda.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I finally caught up with your posts only because you were gone. That’s best to start now in Reader – otherwise it’s too difficult to catch up. I’ve not been caught up totally in months. As to the peregrine falcon story, it is a fact of nature, and you know it exists, but it was unfortunate you had to witness it. The birds catch fish and we’re not so squeamish and sympathetic for the fish but they don’t give us a warm and fuzzy feeling when we interact with them either.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Brutal but beautiful nature. I find birds both scary and magnificent, those eyes and beak! Have a brilliant time in Spain, hope to read about it on your blog soon! Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

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