During my years of photographing wildflowers, I have discovered there are no such things as weeds…it is all in the eyes of the beholder. That is what I kept telling myself as I was pulling out all the “unwanted wildflowers” from our front gardens.
It was about a week later that I discovered our gardens were full of new “unwanted wildflowers”. That’s when I declared war on the WEEDS. It was a quick trip to the garden center to round up some vegetation killer and a cargo area full of cypress mulch bags…no more Mr. Nice Guy.
I spent another full day of pulling WEEDS and laying down a thick layer of mulch. This time though, I was not going to let the little green monsters sneak up on me. Every morning for the following week, I patrolled the gardens, checking for any sign of WEEDS sprouting through the mulch. I had become the WEEDS worst enemy…I was a gunslinger armed with my gallon of vegetation killer. The WEEDS were no match for my quick draw. In the blink of an eye, they were headed to boot…er a…root hill to be with the rest of their dead relatives.
It was during one of those morning patrols that I became aware of warning calls emanating from a small group of Mockingbirds. Now the Mockingbirds had long since claimed ownership of our front yard and would normally sound an alarm whenever I dared to enter their territory. Once they discovered it was me, they would settle down and watch everything I was doing. Occasionally, when they were in a really good mood, they would sing to me, which was neat. On this particular morning, the warning calls never stopped, and my curiosity got the better of me. I went over to see what was causing all the fuss.
It did not take long at all to discover the source of the Mockingbird’s panic attack. As I looked toward the top of my neighbors palm tree, there sat a rather large Red Shouldered Hawk. Now, as I have said repeatedly, if nature provides a golden opportunity do not dally or it will be gone as quick as it appeared. Therefore, it was a fast trip to my office to grab a camera and in no time, I was snapping pictures of the awesome critter.
The hawk was definitely in an agitated state, I mean can you really blame it. First, its chased all over the neighborhood by a band of marauding Mockingbirds and then a rather large man appears out of nowhere and points a long camera lens in its direction. It does not take much imagination to understand why my flash caused the hawk to assume a classic “deer in the headlights” posture.
Finally, the Mockingbirds tired of harassing the hawk and one by one flew off. I’m guessing they were looking for another target to “bully”. As things quieted down, I began talking to the hawk and slowly moved to the other side of the tree to get a better shot. The whole time I was moving, those two intense eyes followed me every inch of the way.
Then something happened that I was not expecting. The hawk began to relax and it started to move its head from side to side as though it was listening to me. I have seen this happen before, but the times were few and far between. As I continued to talk, it acted as though it was hanging on my every word…amazing. At that point, I figured we should be on a first name basis so I introduced myself and since I was not likely to get a first name from the hawk, I decided to call him/her Hank. So Hank the hawk and I continued our one sided conversation.
I guess Hank was getting a crick in his neck because he suddenly turned around to face me. So there we were face to face, eye to eye, and me rambling on about how majestic Hank looked, with Hank being perfectly content listening to my conversation.
Then the unthinkable happened which caused me to stop speaking. Heck I could not speak even if I wanted to, I was awestruck. Hank the hawk was suddenly speaking to me. In all my years of photographing birds, I have never heard a hawk come even close to the sounds Hank was now making. It was kind of like short bursts of quiet cooing. It was absolutely awesome…we were communicating…well at least I think we were. If I could only speak the language, I would know what Hank was saying…UGH.
Everyone will have a different opinion of what Hank actually said, but I think he was thanking me for chasing off the marauding Mockingbirds and helping him recover from the scare, yeah, that’s what I think. Well, either that or “Man you are one kooky photographer”.
Now, there are those of you who will think this is a work of fiction, that it never really happened and it is all a fantasy, maybe even dreaming on my part. Well, think what you like, without actually being there you have nothing on which to base your conclusion.
Now Hank and I are the only ones who are in a position of knowing the real truth. Hank is not talking and some day, when I finally learn the language, I might tell you the whole story.
Another great adventure comes to an end. It doesn’t get any better than this…well, unless you’re talking about hitting the winning home run in the World Series. That might just be a step up from this story.
I guess as we travel the road of life, we can never be really sure which way the road will turn…one thing’s for certain though, if you don’t speak the language always bring a translator along with you.
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