As my back heals from spinal collapse resulting in 15 compression fractures (15 months ago) and spine surgery (3 months ago), my strength has grown to where I am able to go for a walk in the morning if I go within 2 hours of getting out of bed. I have created several routes of varying length in the neighborhood, some with hills and others which are level, some which take 30 minutes to complete and others which take closer to 45 or 50 minutes. Because my legs have been strong all along, I can walk fast (or what is fast compared to others who I pass on my walk), so my 40 minute walk is over 2 miles.
Today, as I went on my 30 minute walk, I picked up several feathers. One was a beautiful blue jay feather with a white tip and blue and black markings up the spine, and a few were nondescript, grayish in color, from what bird I do not know. Also on this day, because of road construction, I retraced my steps on the return home rather than walk in a loop. So I was quite surprised when I was returning close to home that I noticed a feather on the ground that I had passed by 20 minutes earlier. Maybe I had been looking at something else at the time.
The feather was white and mostly fluff, about 2 inches long, and I almost didn't pick it up. But I bent down, picked the feather up and turned it over, and was amazed to find that I was holding a gorgeous small red-tailed hawk feather, with the distinctive light brown markings up the spine. I was elated.
I am always on the lookout for red-tailed hawk feathers, because there is a nesting pair of these hawks within 1 mile of our house. I often see and/or hear the hawks, not only here at home, but 1 mile away at the Sunwheel -- flying, or soaring, or looking for food. At the Sunwheel, the hawks often sit on the tall standing stones to get a good view of the movement of live food on the ground.
So today, when I found the hawk feather close to home, it was a reminder to take my camera and new zoom lens with me to the Sunwheel in hopes of photographing the hawk up close. And what a gift that hawk feather turned out to be. Sure enough, a hawk was at the Sunwheel, standing on the field of grass that had been recently mowed, about 300 feet from the road. I attached the zoom lens to my camera before I got out of the car so I would be ready to take pictures when I made my presence known, and started taking pictures as soon as I got out of the car. As I walked closer to the hawk, I pointed the camera to focus and take a picture -- the camera (a digital SLR Canon Rebel XTi) makes a tiny beeping noise as it focuses. So the hawk noticed me and/or the beeping noise, and she started to fly.
I took pictures as fast as I could, not really knowing if the hawk was in the image or not. In fact, the hawk had flown to a branch in the tree right over my head. I continued to take pictures, and then the hawk flew to a bare branch in the tree, always looking around for food. I continued to take pictures until it was time for me to rest my back.
At that point I looked down on the grass and saw another hawk feather, larger than the one I had found in the morning. I picked it up, and said a prayer of thanks to the hawk and to the Universe for the amazing gifts of this day. What a wonderful adventure this is!
To view my nature photos, go to my Astronomy and Spirituality web site.