It was here that the red-tailed hawk soared overhead, then suddenly dropped sharply to alight on a bale of hay, undoubtedly in search of prey. Though I marveled at its beauty, agility, and grace, I thought of how my grandmother loathed every hawk that dared to threaten her barnyard flock of laying hens.
With nothing but time on my hands as we raked and baled hay*, I began to think about eagles and falcons and a book, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, which was a favorite of fifth graders when once upon a time I was their teacher. The story is about a boy who runs away from home (and as far as I know none of my students ever ran away) to spend a year alone in the Catskill Mountains where a peregrine falcon becomes his companion and provider.
Later, that evening, I climbed the stairs to the attic room to find that old book, and went to sleep that night with Sam and Frightful as they were sleeping in their snug winter home carved from a huge hollow tree deep in a hemlock forest on a lonely mountainside somewhere in the Catskill Mountains.
In this book, Ms. George explains in detail many of the edible foods that Sam harvested from the forest, and methods of preparing those foods. From start to finish, it is a book filled with information on surviving in the wild. And, of course, the training of a falcon is paramount. It was quite fitting that a visitor to Sam's mountain asked him simply, "May I call you Thoreau?" It's a good read, not only for the young, but also for those of us who like to think young.
While I was upstairs, in the research room, as it has been dubbed by a certain fellow around here, I looked at other books on the shelves and realized how many of them deal with studies of nature. It is, undoubtedly, something that holds great appeal for me. I like to think that I am a student of nature, and that the class will go on forever....
|Sam could have used this one...|
|My most valued resources... even though electronic devices have become quite valuable too.|
|Informative and inspiring...|
* As of yesterday, the haying is finished for this year! Yay!