Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Satisfy a Primitive Need: Become a Hawk Watcher!

In a previous entry (“Letting the Day Come to You,” Monday, March 22, 2010), I took a preliminary stab at answering the implicit question, “What’s the pleasure in observing the migration and watching hawks?" The answer had to do in part with how hawk watching during the migration gives us a visceral and fulfilling connectedness with natural forces and movements like weather, the advancing of seasons, and, in the context of those, the migration itself.

Related to this connectedness (but different from it) is the kind of atavistic hunter-prey relationship we experience with the hawks and eagles we see and identify, similar to the relationship Ernest Hemmingway celebrated in his hunting and fishing exploits. We connect not only with the wild creatures on which we focus but also with a primitive part of ourselves from which centuries of civilization have estranged us, the hawk watcher’s successful identification of a hawk swooping past the watch (“I got it!”) functioning as the hunter’s cathartic coup de grace.

It doesn’t surprise me that many of the most dedicated hawk watchers I know either have been or are skilled and experienced hunters or fishermen. The primitive needs we satisfy at the hawk watch, in a rather sophisticated way, are much the same that hunters and fishermen address, but with an added benefit: when we get home, we don’t have to clean our catch!

1 comment:

  1. It's true - I don't have to scale scales or innards disencumber,
    But I have to go home and enter the friggin' numbers!