Beauty in the Breeze

Yesterday was one of those breezy but glorious days. The high temperature was 62 degrees and the sky was full of big puffy clouds that occasionally blocked out the sun in the most breathtaking way. When I took Jazzmin out for our afternoon walk, I paused on the way back in the house to observe the way the wind was swirling the tall grass in the field behind my house into shimmering waves that seemed to breathe along with the breeze. The power and beauty of the wind is something I have always admired and it was extremely worthy of that admiration yesterday.

Around 4 p.m. I felt this inner tug and voice telling me that I needed to spend some time outside. Knowing better than to ignore such feelings, I decided to lay a blanket down in the lawn in front of my smaller storage shed and sit on it for a while enjoying the beauty of the day. I hooked Jazzmin to her tree lead within a few feet of my blanket and she set about busily sniffing away at squirrel trails. With my thick green comforter spread out on the ground, I then spread myself out on it and laid on my back feeling the warmth of the sun on my face. By that time, the temperature had dropped into the mid-50’s so I was wearing my sweatshirt, tank top and yoga pants. I was “sun bathing” completely clothed as it were and considering I’m not a big fan of tanning it worked fine for me.

I closed my eyes for a while feeling the warmth of the sun on my face and then eventually rolled over on my stomach to watch the huge cumulous clouds move over the back field like a thick, fluffy blanket. Dragonflies flew by periodically, I saw a few butterflies too, and amid the tall grass, I could see red – winged blackbirds, starlings and bobolinks flying up before disappearing back down into the grass. It was all so amazing and peaceful that I was glad I’d made the time to go out and enjoy it.

Another periodic visitor in my gaze were turkey vultures flying low over my house and then soaring up on the winds and out over the valley to the west. Eventually I decided to stand up and walk over to the western edge of my property so I could see where the turkey vultures were going. I was quite surprised to see at least 20 of the huge birds soaring at various heights over the properties down the hill from me. I surmised that there must have been appetizing roadkill somewhere down the road to attract so many of the scavengers. I understand that many people might find turkey vultures and the fact that they’re scavengers ugly, but I admire them for their huge wingspan, grace in the air and the essential role they play in the cycle of life. If we humans are going to keep hitting animals that try unsuccessfully to cross the road in front of our vehicles, the least we can do is show proper respect for the turkey vultures who clean up after our mess.

As I watched the large birds circle, I took a few pictures with my phone even though I knew they would just look like dark specks among the clouds.

Those specks among the clouds are turkey vultures. Extremely zoomed in pic from my phone

Those specks among the clouds are turkey vultures. Extremely zoomed in pic from my phone

I had just lowered my phone when I realized that one of the circling birds didn’t have the same shape as the turkey vultures. At first, I thought it was a hawk but then I saw that it was much too large. A moment later the sun came out from behind the latest swath of clouds and in the warm golden glow, I saw the white head and tail that revealed to me that I was looking at a bald eagle.

My heart swelled in joy at the sight of the bird and when it broke off from the turkey vultures and flew northeast temporarily disappearing beyond the canopy of my trees I walked quickly toward my driveway to try to catch another glimpse of it. I was therefore elated when I saw that the bald eagle had turned and was now flying directly over me as I stood in my driveway. Tears immediately flowed from my eyes as I saw the great bird closer and there was no denying those beautiful white head and tail feathers. I held my phone up to take a couple pictures and hoped I got something recognizable because I couldn’t see anything in my viewfinder due to the glare.

bald eagle above me

Another zoomed in pic. Bald eagle directly above me.

As I watched, the bald eagle flew gracefully from north to south over me as I stood in the driveway, then over my yard and into the field behind my house, eventually soaring beyond my sight over the southwestern line of trees.

The dark speck is the bald eagle soaring over the southwestern trees.

The small, dark speck is the bald eagle soaring over the southwestern trees.

The tears were still streaming down my cheeks because I felt so blessed by the visit of the great bird and its powerful spirit and I didn’t even bother to wipe them away. I let the tears dry on my face as I sat back down on my blanket, overcome with feelings of awe and amazement. My heart and spirit pulsed with gratitude that the universe had sent me such a powerful messenger. Aloud I thanked the Creator, Great Spirit and my father’s spirit for reminding me once again that I haven’t been forgotten and that even though I might not know what it is yet, that I have an amazing destiny ahead of me. I am eternally glad that I listened to that inner voice yesterday telling me that I needed to sit in the lawn for a bit to enjoy the day and witness the beauty in the breeze.

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Wings of Arrows

See if you can spot the hawk...

See if you can spot the hawk…

The weather yesterday made it feel like April instead of February and I took advantage of the mild temperatures by taking a nice long walk with Jazzmin. We went up the big hill, which we haven’t in many months and as we neared the hill, I saw a hawk sitting in the bare branches of a tree alongside the road. I’ve become really good at spotting hawks from a distance now and I slowed my pace knowing he would fly off as soon as we got close. As soon as we were within 20 feet, he took off just as I’d expected. I can’t take decent distance pictures with my camera phone, but I snapped a couple photos as he flew out of the tree and across the field next to the road.

A bit further down the road I saw another hawk soaring in the sky and I stopped to watch his graceful movements as he rode the wind. I see hawks quite often and I know they’re one of my spirit guides/spirit guardians/animal totems. Seeing one is always a good omen and I take them as a sign that I’m headed in the right direction with my life, my feelings and my thoughts. Hawks are like arrows pointing me on my way with their graceful, beautiful wings and I feel so blessed that they watch over me.

Although today wasn’t as warm as yesterday, I took Jazz out on a walk because it’s my duty as her pack leader and it’s good for both of us. I’d just reached the end of my driveway when I heard a hawk cry in the sky. I stopped and turned back toward my house, peering into the sky for the source of the cry. After a few moments of searching, I saw the hawk soaring high up amid the clouds and blue sky and I smiled.

Happy that I’d seen a hawk so early on our walk, I headed down the road and glanced toward where the hawk had been. Much to my surprise, I realized there were two more hawks flying with the first hawk. By the time I reached the end of my road, there were four hawks circling in the sky and they had broken up into two couples. I stopped again and just watched them in awe because it had been quite a while since I saw four hawks flying together.

When we returned to my house, I felt even more blessed as I saw that the four hawks continued to circle near my home. The couples had broken apart, one set soaring over the road down the hill and the other soaring over the field behind my house. I was honored that they remained nearby and I’m certain they’re an indication of positive things yet to come in my life. With my future traveling on wings of arrows, I know that everything will be just fine.

Counting Hawks

red tailed hawk in flight

Ever since my father died in 2009, I’ve paid close attention to the sky. I think of him and miss him every time I see the moon because it was special to both of us. Sometimes when I see it in the sky I say, “Hey, Dad” and smile because I know he’s listening.

I also look to the sky for something else: hawks. For me, hawks are a sign that my father, my ancestors, and the universe are watching over me, guiding me, and helping me on my path. I often ask to see a hawk sitting or flying as an answer to a specific question or problem I’m having and quite often, I see the hawk in response. Sometimes I see hawks when I’m feeling especially down and just the sight of their powerful, regal, feathered form is enough to reassure me that the universe hasn’t abandoned me.

While I’ve paid closer attention to seeing hawks and purposely started looking for them over the past few years, it wasn’t until last spring that I decided to start counting how many I see a day. I tend to see more when I’m out driving, but there are days when they fly right over my front yard at the exact moment I look out the window and to me, that’s never coincidence. In the summer when I’m working at my desk, I have the window next to me open and I quite often hear a hawk cry in the sky and I then go dashing out onto my deck. When I look up, I quickly see the hawk (sometimes there’s more than one) and I thank them for making themselves known to me.

In my years of hawk spotting, I’ve learned to tell the difference between hawks, crows, and turkey vultures. They each have a unique shape, size and style of flying. While many people seem to mistake turkey vultures for eagles due to their size, I know by now that most clusters of broad-winged, soaring birds in this region are turkey vultures. It’s amazing what one can learn just by looking up into the sky every day.

I see the highest number of hawks when I’m driving out to New England on my road trips. I’m sure that has to do with it being an almost 7-hour drive over 420 miles, much of it through heavily treed and hilly terrain. Last summer, the most hawks I saw was around 20 during the drive out with my girls in August for our vacation on Plum Island. Seeing 20 hawks felt pretty impressive to me and I figured that was probably the highest number I’d ever see. My most recent trip to New England proved me wrong.

As I headed out last Wednesday morning to drop Jazzmin at the boarders before getting on the thruway, I didn’t see any hawks until I realized I’d forgotten my ticket to the MCNAA Anniversary Dinner and turned around to return home. Shortly after I turned onto my unexpected detour home, I saw a hawk sitting in a tree and I knew that for whatever reason, I was meant to go back home. Later on in that same return trip home I drove by an open field and saw three hawks circling together above it. I’m certain that my unexpected delay happened for a reason and that it was protecting me from something that would’ve happened if I’d remembered the ticket and not had to double back.

Once I had the ticket, I headed back out, dropped Jazzmin off, grabbed my usual Dunkin Donuts coffee and breakfast sandwich, and got onto the thruway heading east. Shortly after I merged into traffic, a great blue heron flew lazily above me and I took that as a good omen that I was heading out at just the right time. Within a half hour of driving, I saw my first hawk and the counting continued.

I drive past Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge on my trip and while I usually see geese, ducks, and perhaps a heron, I’ve never seen anything that I couldn’t see just by looking out my back window at home. As I neared the refuge, I saw a bird with a large wing span fly over the overpass, through the trees and into the refuge area and I thought at first that it was a heron. Driving closer, I realized it didn’t have the long neck of a heron and I could tell by the way that it was flying that it wasn’t a turkey vulture either. Much to my thrilled amazement, I realized by its wing span and shape that it was an eagle of some type, either a golden eagle or a juvenile bald eagle because they look very similar (bald eagles don’t get their full adult plumage including white heads until around 5 years old). It flew majestically over the thruway as I passed under it and I felt truly blessed to have seen it!

With my spirits newly lifted, I continued my hawk counting and by the time I reached my hotel in New Hampshire, the final number was astounding. I’d seen 61 hawks that drive! They’d been sitting on poles, in tree branches, and soaring through the sky throughout the drive, sometimes in groups of up to three hawks. It was a lovely, mostly sunny day so I’m sure it was great for hunting but in all my trips out there since I started counting, I’d never seen so many! I took that number as an extremely positive sign and seeing the eagle was an added bonus!

I continued to count daily hawks while visiting New England and there was only one day when I didn’t see any hawks. It was an especially dreary, snowy day so I don’t blame the hawks for seeking shelter out of sight. I counted hawks on my drive home and I’m sure I missed some while I was navigating Monday morning traffic, but I counted 15 by the time I was almost at the exit for Canandaigua.

When I neared the exit I said aloud “If I see one more hawk that will make it 16, the reverse of the 61 I saw on the way out.” As I entered the exit and began to loop around, I spotted a red-tailed hawk flying up from the ground and just as I neared, he flew up and landed atop one of the directional signs pointing around the bend. If I needed proof that the universe was always listening to me, I received it quite vividly in that moment! I was so grateful and pleased that I smiled, laughed, and thanked the universe for my unfailingly faithful feathered guides and guardians.

Blessings on Bird Wings Part 3 (conclusion)

Indigo bunting. Such a lovely shade of blue!

Indigo bunting. Such a lovely shade of blue!

There was an indigo bunting at my feeder today and as I’ve never seen one before in my life, I figured that was a sign that I need to write the conclusion to this series of blog entries. I’m not sure what drew the adorable little blue, black and purple indigo bunting to my bird feeder oasis but I’m glad he came! Maybe it was all the pretty violas and petunias I put out or the pear tree or the fountain or the addition of yet another feeder I forgot I owned. Whatever it was, I hope he comes back again and brings lots of family and friends!

indigo bunting2 indigo bunting3 indigo bunting4

When I finished the first stage of my wild bird oasis last week, it was still light enough to take Jazzmin for a walk so we headed out over the hills. As I rounded the curve on the first road, I was reveling in my immense feelings of happiness and contentment. I was thinking how lucky I am to be able to work from home with a flexible schedule that allows me to be outside during the nice weather. I can also use my free time to work on my crafts at my table with the window open to enjoy the breeze and sounds of the birds. It’s a level of peace and fulfillment I never experienced when working outside the home.

As I walked Jazz further along the hills, I took a deep breath and said “I am blessed.” It felt amazing just saying those words and knowing how true they are! We continued along the road and I was looking up into the sky as I always do in search of hawks. I almost always see a hawk when I’m outside or when I’m driving, I just have to keep my eyes peeled. Sure enough, when we topped the next hill, I saw a hawk circling slowly above the trees. I broke out in a smile so bright it would’ve lit up the trees if the sun hadn’t already been shining.

Seeing a hawk is always a positive sign and good omen for me and the sight of this one soaring was further confirmation that I’m finally on the right path in my life. I just have to continue to have faith, trust that life will work out as it’s supposed to and of course keep enjoying the daily blessings on bird wings.

Guides along the path

Red-tailed hawk. Image courtesy of National Geographic

If you’ve been loyally reading every blog post I’ve written here then you know that I’m a huge believer in signs. I don’t just mean road signs, though those have come in very handy when I’ve become lost in New England. The signs that I pay the most attention to are of a more divine nature.

Coexisting with my belief in signs is my belief in spirit guardians. Quite often in fact, the signs I see come from the animals around me. Butterflies are a sign of hope and remind me that my father and other loved ones who have passed are always near. When I see a fox, I consider it good luck. Hearing an owl in the woods at night is reassurance from the spirits that they’re with me even in darkness. Seeing a hawk means that I am on the right path and to continue on in the direction I’ve chosen.

I lost track of how many hawks I saw perched in trees, atop poles and flying through the sky on my last drive to New England. I felt that they were not only guiding me but also showing the approval of higher powers as I pursue my dreams. There are always signs and guides along the path, if you’re willing to open your mind, heart and eyes to see them.