The hawk and the squirrel

The day before yesterday we had an additional dusting of snow, which has persisted mainly because of the extreme cold. There’s just enough white in the landscape to remind us that despite what the calendar might say, winter has arrived here in New England.

I stepped outside for a walk Monday morning, carrying an umbrella to ward off the sleet. A winter mix had fallen over the course of Sunday night, leaving the driveway a bit slick. As I inched down the gentle slope, a large object flapped down by the stone wall along the front walkway. I looked up to see a big red tail hawk standing on the turf. On closer inspection I glimpsed the limp form of a grey squirrel beneath its right foot. The bird’s talons were embedded in the squirrel’s skull.

I stood stock still for nearly three minutes as the bird turned its head this way and that. Finally it took flight, slightly out of kilter with the weight of the squirrel’s carcass swinging below. It perched in a nearby pine with the limp carcass of its prey dangling below the branch, and sat motionless as I passed by below it.

Life is tenuous; every living thing struggles to survive against seemingly insurmountable odds.