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.