Hawks. Nice to be at the top of the trees–and the food chain.

When I was in high school, my boyfriend and I used to sit on his front steps, look out across the lawn and just talk. Sometimes he would play his guitar. Clarence, his big grey cat, would often saunter up the drive when he saw us there, sporting a cavalier expression indicating his awareness that he was at the top of the food chain. At least his neighborhood one. Or that he had convinced himself (and us) that he was.

One beautiful late autumn day, before the weather was too cold to sit outside, we heard birds and looked to see from where the song came. I pointed to a large maple street-side, saying, “Look! There he is! Isn’t it great that with all the leaves gone we can see the bird?” My boyfriend replied, “I think it’s great to hear the song and not necessarily know where it’s coming from.” Ah yes. Point of view.

My last newsletters might give the idea, in addition to this memory, that I am a bit of a garden voyeur. I confess: “guilty as charged.” I’ve reported on squirrel activity for a few weeks in both word and with photos. Now I admit to binoculars perched and ready alongside the kitchen window, lenses uncapped for quick viewing.

I think, though, it is about paying attention, a desire for awareness of my garden and what’s going on in it. Looking to see–really see–what is out there. In addition to craving the details, I believe that another wonderful thing about the garden and gardening is that it’s not something to do fast; it’s better to go slow and take your time. Taking the time to do things slowly feeds the ability to notice. Perhaps this is why I have an aversion to power tools. I want, on purpose, to be going slow enough so I can notice what’s going on, whether that is pest or disease prevention purposes or to appreciate the finer points of a just opened flower. Consider this: when working with hand pruners, I am “up close and personal” with the plants. At arm’s length I can see a whole lot more than if my POV was from the far end of a hedge trimmer. With a hand pruner I also usually use my other hand to hold the stem or branch, looking at it this way and that, something I most certainly would not do for with a power tool. I feel this way as a designer, too; I don’t go diving into a computer package; it always starts with a sketch. Hand to the paper illuminates, clarifies thoughts in ways that software never can. Here too, it’s about connection.

I’m sure most everyone has heard of the “slow food movement,” meals in opposition, as the phrase suggests, to fast food. And much of this starts in the garden. In the garden as at the table, taking the time to savor the flavor and the relationships that surround it–people and otherwise.

Best I could tell, the hawk perched at the end of the garden was a broad-winged hawk. He flew into the tree at the end of the afternoon, the light casting a rosy glow onto his leg feathers. If I had not been at the kitchen window just at the moment he approached the tree, I may not have seen him, he blended so will with the birch bark hue. Evidently the squirrel sitting on the fence near the dappled willow didn’t see him either, as the hawk dove toward the squirrel–just missed. The squirrel ran off, scolding the hawk the whole way. The hawk then stood in the center of the winter lawn, looking to where he could try again.

While you put the finishing touches on your holiday preparations, consider slowing it down. Take a look. I’m calling it the “hoe, hoe, hoe” of the “ho, ho, ho.”

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