Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Entry #172

The Grandson’s Approach
by Tony Noland


He thought it was too big to be a Cooper’s hawk, and he hadn’t seen a sharp-shinned hawk in years. Not since they built up the south part of Lucas Township. There used to be great birding around here. Hawks, songbirds, kestrels. He even saw a blue heron once. All gone now, though. You hardly even saw grackles anymore. Too much land around here isn’t really land, just asphalt.

He didn’t try to squint to identify it; that just made it worse. He watched the dark, blurry shape fly against the dark, blurry trees, saw it light on a branch. He tried to get a feel for what it was by how it moved, how it sat. Maybe it was a Cooper’s after all, a big one. Not a red tail hawk, though. Something about the shape of the tail was wrong. The glaucoma made it so damned hard to tell, especially since last spring. Years ago, he’d often joked with his birder friends that with a life list like his, he knew his birds by smell.

Over the years, he’d learned the hard way that God didn’t have much of a sense of humor.

The hawk, whatever kind it was, flew away. He saw one of his grandsons climbing the hill up to come get him, help him back down to the house. It was either Derek, Sam or Nathan; he’d know which when the boy came closer. He leaned against his wife’s old silver maple and waited.

25 comments:

Carrie said...

Nice play on the picture with the blurry thing going on. You have a way of giving your characters so much personality. :)

Laurel said...

Gorgeous depiction of the knowledge we gain and the things we lose with our years.

Loving and eloquent.

austere said...

Liked this one for the brevity as for the silver sense you're brought in so effortlessly.

Aniket said...

Lovely portrayal of the character. This literally placed us in his shoes.

McKoala said...

I like the writing in this one; simple but effective.

Bernita said...

What McKoala said.

catvibe said...

Oh, it made me happy to read this. Just yesterday I was looking in my Petersen's to try to identify a great big hawk I've been seeing lately. I also came to the conclusion that it wasn't a Cooper's Hawk, but I'll need to see it in flight above me to get it right. I also saw a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers yesterday, and added them to my life list, yes I keep one. So all this to say that I was captivated by your story both for the birding, and the tenderness I felt for the old man. Excellent writing, just beautiful.

Tony Noland said...

Thanks, everybody. The thing that struck me most about the picture wasn't the bird, the trees, or the lack of color or leaves. It was the blurriness.

I'm glad you liked it!

laughingwolf said...

not glaucoma, but i have eye probs, so can relate...

Preeti said...

this is a very well written piece. the flow was smooth and uninterrupted. i loved the characterization. simple and sweet.

nice. liked.

lena said...

I love how you portrayed the character. And your interpretation of the picture. Great writing!

smith kaich jones said...

Loved the feel of changes in this, loved the watching of the hawks. I am surrounded by red tailed hawks - a nest just up the road means we keep our small animals indoors when they're scanning the neighborhood. A neighbor lost a teacup chihuahua a few years ago and the rest of us learned our lesson.

Debi

Deb Smythe said...

Nice, clean writing. A real pleasure to read.

Craig said...

I love they way you wove all those little details together to show the MC's age.

pjd said...

Two things taken away from him over the years... sight and, well... site, I suppose. Nicely written, wistful.

Kartik said...

Very lovingly portrayed!

Anonymous said...

I like the last sentence; it suggests that his wife has been gone along time, but he is not alone. Bravo! --JR

JaneyV said...

I love this depiction of an old timer. You showed us his life, how it changed and the way it is now - all through blurry eyes. Gentle and warm I find Grandfather a compelling character. I enjoyed this very much.

(BTW last year in a CoN contest I had a woman who was practically blind from glaucoma getting a bike ride down route 66)

Kurt Hendricks said...

Beautiful description of the ordinary cruelty with which time takes things away.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Loss of eyesight, but not acuity. Nicely done. I really feel for your MC.

Harper said...

Yes, for the elderly, looking through the world can be as if it is an impressionistic painting; seen through tears; blurred, out of focused. The physical condition acts a metaphor for the spiritual condition of humankind that destroys (squanders) habitats of nature as it builds up habitats for itself. Perhaps, we can't see what we are doing, we all have scales on our eyes.

Aerin said...



my caveat

Something I Would Keep

It's subtle, but the piece unfolds in a sort of chronological movement, so that there's definitely "action" in a smooth, understated sense.

Something I Might Tweak

grackles? really? I had to literally stop and Google - :) Oh, wait, that's my own ignorance...

Chris Eldin said...

So elegant and sweet. Very nicely written!

Tara said...

Great take--the bluriness jumped out at me most, as well. Very sweet story.

Tony Noland said...

Thanks for all the great comments, guys. It's a small moment, in which all of this man's life is enfolded.

Glad you liked it!