I cut my hunting teeth, so to speak, on going out in the fields in Ontario, New York, pursuing the Chinese ringneck pheasant. I was 14, and my Dad, about 40 years older, was my teacher and hunting partner, along with our mongrel dog, Wilbur, who had a natural nose on him. At that time, in the mid 60’s, there was a strong population of pheasants all over western New York. It was not to remain so. By the early 70’s, pheasant numbers began to plummet, and the wildlife biologists had a whole array of theories: too intensive farming, removal of the hedgerows, too many foxes, too much development. By the 80’s, there were not enough birds left to bother hunting them around here, unless you belonged to a hunting club that stocked pen raised birds. Since that time, it has been noteworthy for me to see the occasional pheasant crossing the road, or when I am working on one of my farms. So, imagine my delight when I recently saw two roosters, miles apart, only one day apart, and two days later, heard a third calling on my farm in Macedon! I learned some time ago that when someone has recurring presence of a particular animal in their life, it is referred to as “waken”, meaning that that animal has a particular teaching or offering for the recipient. Each animal carries special medicine, not the kind that makes a headache go away, but rather medicine that is specific to that animal spirit, medicine which it brings to the great web of life, and contributes willingly and with generosity. For example, hummingbird carries the medicine of joy, butterflies that of transformation, elk carry power. I don’t know the medicine of pheasant, and I will have to research it. If I had to guess (i.e. ask my heart, and trust that), I would say that they carry medicine excitement, and of a wish to be seen. Whatever, I am tickled to be in contact with three of these magnificent winged ones recently.
So, I’m driving down the road, and in this particular place, where the creek meanders close to the shoulder, there are semi-mature shade trees on both sides of the road. It is a fair woods on my right, and a narrow strip of trees between the road and the creek. It is a little like driving through a tunnel at this particular spot, and I always pay close attention when driving through here, as it tends to reveal unusual relatives. For example, last December, I saw a bobcat cross the road here, and often see deer and great blue herons. This time, as I drove through “the tunnel”, something “falling out of the sky” caught my attention. Really, in my peripheral vision, I got this image of something pretty good sized just falling. I hit the brakes, and looked up with most of my attention to see a falling chicken! I mean, it looked at first like one of those classic comedy routine rubber chickens, just falling out of the sky! It took me just a brief instant to recognize the redtail hawk that was dropping on it’s prey with deadly accuracy and intent. It was holding it’s wings straight up in the air, had it’s legs and talons fully extended, head tucked into it’s chest, with eyes focused like lasers on the intended victim. So, when I looked up, all I saw at first was the underside of it’s ribcage and wings, and it just looked like that damned chicken! But, what a sight, and so fast, so much it reminded me of that connection that we have with All Our Relations. Hawk medicine: spiraling energy.
I’ve been putting up bluebird houses for many years, and never once have I had any residents. One year, there was a pair investigating one of the houses, and I believe that they actually were taking down the “for rent” sign, when they were booted out by a couple of larger cowbirds. This year, though, there is something different. We have a pair of bluebirds in our back yard. Now, our back yard is 120 acres of field and woods, wetland and pond, hayfield and Christmas tree plantation. These two are not using one of the dozen houses in our immediate surrounding, but I believe that they have found something to their liking nearby. Each day lately they are visiting our feeders, and love to lite on the short wooden stakes I use to mark the ends of rows of veggies in my garden. Guess what the medicine of blue bird is? Yeah, they are bringing some into my life.