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The Hawk's Nest

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The weather just is

Last week was the spring equinox. Really, it is more than a week since spring arrived, eight days as of this writing to be exact. The sun is shining through the trees earlier each morning; there is new growth on the lilacs as well as the viburnam. The activity at our bird feeders is frantic. Some of the winged ones who leave for winter have returned. Last week on a drive, I saw an eagle carrying nesting material. The chickadees and finches cleaned up most of the fur I brushed off our dog and left for them to use in their nests. In our woods, a Flicker has been drumming on a hollow tree. It has been acting like spring.

Right now, it is snowing; the wind is blowing. It looks as if we have about six inches on the picnic table. They say we could get that much more in our area. Add this new snow to the two feet of old we still have on the ground from a harder-than-usual winter and it makes our woods look more like Christmas than the week after Easter.

Winter once again is clinging to the fence rails and drifting on the lee side of posts. The tree branches that were starting to reach up for the sun are now sagging toward the earth from the weight of the new accumulation; the tops look like hooded heads bowed away from the blustery weather.

A few weeks ago, I was out on the deck talking to Matt on the phone, and wearing a t-shirt. We were admiring the blue sky, and spring even as the old snow was melting. Now it is cold, the sky is gray and there is new snow on the old. Still a Varied Thrush trills from a nearby tree.

Statistically, this snow is quite late; in fact, the two feet under it is late melting. By those same statistics, this winter’s buildup has been deeper than usual.

Where we live there are four seasons and for most of us that is good. Still, it is easy to look at the calendars we have created and set the seasons to come and go on our schedule. At times, when the weather doesn’t meet our timetable, it can be easy to complain, call it bad, put our judgment on it. While it’s true I will need to adjust my agenda for the day to accommodate the snow and I may not even get to do all I had planned, this late snow is not bad; it just is.

The weather is, just as the rest of nature just is. The same Divine Source that gave us a few spring days a while back is the same Divine Source who is giving us this storm.

Sometimes we call weather devastating; usually when its activity causes destruction to people or property. It is distressing, devastating if you will, when someone is injured or property is damaged for any reason, and we need to do all we can for those who suffer. However, it is not nature’s intention, or Divine Source’s intention, to destroy, discomfort, or even inconvenience. The weather is just doing what the weather does. When we build in front of it, which can’t be condemned, there is a possibility it may destroy our work or our life.

Our home is in a forest. Every year during the fire season, wildfire is a niggling thought in the back of our minds. If it were to come through and destroy our place, we would be distraught. However, it would not be the fire’s fault. The fire is not out to "get us," it just does what fires have always done. Moreover, we would rebuild right here.

Judgments we apply to nature we are also applying to our Divine Source, the Creator of all. Granted, my emotion tends to get in the way of that and I tend to forget sometimes.

Wow! Speaking of judgment, I was looking out my window, hoping for inspiration, watching a Junko pecking for food in the snow. Just as it started to fly, a Coopers Hawk plunged out of a fir tree and hit it at a couple feet off the ground. Feathers flew as the hawk took its meal into the woods. What an opportunity to practice what I’m working on here. Do I feel bad for the Junko, or should I celebrate the meal the hawk received? Both feelings are a judgment on my part. I do have compassion for the little bird who died, but that doesn’t mean the hawk is bad. It was getting a meal just as it was designed, in the same way other acts of nature like storms, fires, or flood are doing. And, it is normal to feel empathy for people who are devastated by the storms. Still, the storms are not bad, they just are.

To paraphrase Lindsay Wagner during a workshop I attended a few weeks ago, I can’t feel bad enough for the Junko to change anything. In addition, even if I had chosen to, I can’t feel frustrated enough about the late spring snow storm to change anything. What I can do is enjoy and honor the wonderful variety of nature as it is presented to me, with compassion and without a judgmental reaction.

Now it’s time to start clearing snow.

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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