Sitting on the hill above the valley it all became clear. Looking down on the river with ember orange beech trees standing sentinel on the far bank, I take in the glow of the late autumnal sun. My hawk is sat atop my fist. Sated. Full from her kill, there is blood still bright on her beak.
I exhale. A sense of calm washes over me.
Now don’t get me wrong early on. The hunt has not brought me calm. It brings me nothing but unease. It saddens me. But I am wedded to this bird. She has helped me in ways many might struggle to understand but in the coming months I am going to try and explain how.
I am a falconer. I meditate. I want to tell you the story of my first year as a falconer and how birds have changed the way I see the world. I will write openly of my time in the field – the chase and the violence. I’ll tell you about the field itself and the river. It’s beautiful. There may also be mention of badgers.
Like a diary you’ll hear of the training techniques, the dark early days in my garage and the formation of a force of nature. An animal of sharpest instincts and fury, of humour and curiosity, of blackest moods and absolute tenderness. But more than that I’ll talk of me, or rather, us, man and hawk and a partnership I never thought I’d have.
And what a partnership. It has brought me to a wild place, one of the edge of town, the other deep in my soul. It has changed for me for the better, given me a new and positive outlook. You see, the thing is, I am true nature. It pulses through me. You too. I just needed a bird to see it. And I can show you.
I have been in this valley most days for a long time now. Home. The hawk casts an eye across the water to the furthest beeches, where a female buzzard watches us from afar. My hawk cranes her neck to return her gaze, but slowly. Relaxed. I close my eyes and just listen to the sounds. The trickle of water. A soft breeze through the trees. The sound of my breath. The rousing of feathers on my fist, a sign of contentedness. I smile. I am content too.
Falconry is my mindfulness, and nature teaches me every day. If you’d like to venture out with my hawk every couple of weeks, please come read with me. Speak soon.