I was on my daily anxiety walk when I saw the hawk again.
The Anxiety Walk is an annual event in January. The lack of sunlight, color and things to do wreaks havoc on my mental health struggles. You googling questions for an hour at a time, trying to reassure yourself, but only terrifying yourself. process. To use up your tense energy, you might clean your kitchen or organize your spice rack. Take a walk around the label at least once a day, stimulate it with your hands, take a deep breath, and stare at something interesting. It helps. Not good enough, but helpful.
An eerily bright Sunday for January. The world was not gray on gray, but gray on blue, and the sky was deep, clear, cerulean overhead. It was mostly warm in the sun and freezing cold in the shade. Where the light didn’t hit, there were tufts of old snow and puddles frozen in paper-thin ice. I would have thought it was early spring anywhere there was sunshine. I’ve gone on anxious walks and almost galloped past my irritating, impatient and threatening neighbor’s house, but she hasn’t bothered us since last May. Went to a nicer neighborhood that I saw popping into.
After walking for half an hour, we saw another bird of prey, much larger than the one we had seen before.
Many of the blocks running east and west from La Belle View have been stripped of their venerable old trees thanks to the power company. However, there are some large uncut sycamore trees on this street. In the largest tree was an unusually large bird, halfway between a duck and a goose. Something about the shape and whiteness of his belly reminded me of Winnie the Pooh’s owl, and for a moment he was one of those ugly owl decoys that people put on buildings to ward off pest birds. I thought, but why should he balance on a tree branch taller than a two-story building?
I went out into the street to get a closer look.
This is a block I usually avoid if I go for fast exciting walks. The house is in such bad repair that I don’t like looking at them. It is an obstacle course rather than a thoroughfare as large trees divide the walkway. Parked along the sidewalk is his pickup truck with ominous bumper stickers with phrases such as “Hunting liberals!” I have pictures of guns and Confederate flags, so if I had to flip my ankle and cry for help, I don’t think I would be very lucky. I was.
I expected the birds to disappear as I walked towards the trees. Upon closer inspection, it was little more than a piece of bark in the shape of a bird, or a child’s balloon tangled in a branch. But it remained. Especially when I got closer, I could see a hawk’s head instead of an owl’s head. I could make out the businesslike curve of his beak. His belly feathers were white with brown stripes, and his back feathers were another brown. He looked much bigger than the hawk that chased the pigeon the other day.
I got home and got my cell phone. “There’s a big bird in the tree!” I told Adrian, who was playing a video game. “I thought it was a fake owl decoy, but it worked.”
“It must have been a branch,” Adrian said without looking up.
“No, it must be a hawk or a falcon,” I insisted. “My head was spinning. It was huge.
“It was a branch,” said Adrian.
“Oh, you little faith,” I countered, grabbing my phone.
“Oh, you branch!”
Then my anxiety popped up again. Panic returned. Michael and Adrian were late to church while I lay miserable upstairs.
I woke up this morning with the terror of biting my stomach that was colder than ice. I drank coffee instead of breakfast. I walked around with stimulation to calm myself down and went on another anxiety walk.
Again, the sky was a vibrant, eerie blue. Again, it was warm in the sun and freezing cold in the shade. Once again I cut off the dangerous cracked streets to see the hawks. At first I thought he wasn’t there, but then I heard his voice: a series of hoarse croaks, like crows in a different register.
I followed the sound to another branch of the tree. A falcon was there, singing.
I was able to take a video of him singing.
I got home and got wifi and put the video online to see if anyone could identify the bird. I googled and heard video after video of hawks crowing, but none seemed exactly right. Finally, someone found it for me: the bird was a red-shouldered hawk.
I almost hugged myself with joy. Found a red-shouldered hawk here on the label.
I felt better for hours. Panic returned eventually, but I got reprieve.
I’m not saying you should stop taking drugs or seeing a therapist. One is learning about things.
I am very happy to know that the remedy still works.
Mary Pezro, author of The Way of the Cross Meditation Mary’s Sorrow and JoyWhen Stumbling to Grace: How to Meet God with Small Works of Mercy.