I live in a thickly wooded area and my backyard is home to many critters. Last week we had a very noisy skirmish between the possum clan and red fox tribe that drew Spouse from his nice warm bed to screech like a banshee and whack a baseball bat against the metal door at 3 am.
His little performance did produce a temporary truce, but by the next morning a casualty of war ended up beneath our porch drawing flies.
Death is part of nature’s cycle, I know, but I don’t want to smell it beneath my floor boards. Or witness it either.
Which is why I’ve developed a strong aversion to hawks. We have ’em by the squadrons around here, dozens at a time cruising for prey, honing in on the innocent baby squirrels and sweet birdies that call my yard home.
All my little furry babies will be scampering about, tweeting merrily, playing chase up and down tree trunks or frolicking across wooden fences when they suddenly freeze. A dark shadow passes over the yard as a menacing hawk stalks overhead. Suddenly everyone dashes for cover, but not before the lightning-quick carnivore swoops down and snatches one of my poor babies away, squealing in terror.
When the ominous shadows begin crossing the yard, I’ve tried yelling, banging pans with a metal spoon, even chasing them with a stick. But nothing deters the determined winged predators. I’ve even seen one buzz the Maltese next door, swooping down low enough to cause the little dog’s white hair to fly up.
So my woodland friends have learned to fear the shadow of the hawk.
I suppose I’ve become more introspective since I’ve been writing a book about fear, but it occurred to me today that many people live in the shadow of a hawk, too. Maybe not of the flesh and feather variety, but nonetheless a predator that instills fear in us by its deadly beak and razor-sharp talons. For some, it’s constantly cruising overhead, casting its fearful shadow that immobilizes momentum and steals joy.
Hawks can be unemployment, fear of disease or illness, rejection, loss of looks, or even loneliness. Long-time conflicts, dread of pain, the unknown future can loom large over our heads, making us worry constantly that this hawk or that one will swoop down when we least expect it and snatch us away.
I’m tired of cowering in fear in the shadow of my personal hawks. So I’m thinking of getting a BB gun.
Or maybe a bow and arrow. Or a cruise missile.
What do you think? What type of weapon would be the best protection when the shadow of the hawk darkens your path?