He would always point them out on the fence posts, when we were going down the interstate or driving a winding backroad through the country. The red-tailed hawks. Or maybe red-shouldered. Either way, just mottled red, the color of a faded barn. They would be still, statues, against the northern winds. They would be watching for field mice, he’d share. Or voles, whatever those are. Those fence posts lining fallow fields of winter wheat or corn or soybeans. The hawks were best seen in the winter, their long puffed up bodies standing out against the golden and dead corn husks or icy white nothing.
I think about this now, today. My dad teaching me to notice things. To be in the flow, to sit in the process, to understand the context of how the world came to be, the journey ultimately the most important.
When this verdict came out that affirmed what we all knew already. I thought of the last time my dad cried which was the last time he watched the news which was the last time I watched a video of a Black man being slowly killed. Maybe it was a wave of grief that my dad was leaving this world. Maybe it was a wave of grief that this Black man had already left this world, no choice in the matter. Maybe it was a wave of grief that we have so much left to do and he wouldn’t be here to see it done.
My dad was a dove in a hawk’s world, I like to think. He was the one who introduced me to that concept. Talking about Afghanistan likely being another never-ending war, the early Bush era hawks circling to find a paltry excuse for retribution, sending our girls and boys off to places whose names they cannot pronounce and whose poppy fields they would raze without understanding, just following orders in a system designed exactly for that. He talked about Kennedy’s assassination, slightly prone to conspiracies, because he thought Kennedy was a dove and all those around him were hawks, waiting for their chance at power, money, supremacy.
I yearn today for more lessons, scenes, insights from my dad to come back into the front of my mind. I sit idly, looking out the back window at the signs of spring, the signs of a calendar year come and gone, the signs of migration with voices of hummingbirds and yellow finch and chickadee that fill the airshed with life, the signs of things my dad planted and that he touched and that he pruned, the signs of the neighborhood red-tailed hawk circling above as the crows clatter below. Snippets come here and there.
And I wait because I just want more. We all do.