The Eagle & The Weasel

I'd prefer not to

Tag: animals

This is for my friend Caitlin.

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Well and Proper and Obedient and Pure

In case you’re wondering, the title of this blog comes from an essay by Annie Dillard called Living Like Weasels. It should of course be read in its entirety, but here are a couple passages:

And once, says Ernest Thompson Seton–once, a man shot an eagle out of the sky. He examined the eagle and found the dry skull of a weasel fixed by the jaws to his throat. The supposition is that the eagle had pounced on the weasel and the weasel swiveled and bit as instinct taught him, tooth to neck, and nearly won.

[…]

I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you. Then even death, where you’re going no matter how you live, cannot you part. Seize it and let it seize you up aloft even, till your eyes burn out and drop; let your musky flesh fall off in shreds, and let your very bones unhinge and scatter, loosened over fields, over fields and woods, lightly, thoughtless, from any height at all, from as high as eagles.

If you know me IRL and have ever wondered about my tattoo, this is as close to an explanation as I can get. I’ve considered sending a picture of it to Annie Dillard, but she would probably think it was weird.

tattoo and hyperextended elbow

Attar

On December 29th there was a hawk in the tree outside my window. I had been awake for about ten minutes and was standing next to my bed, kind of deciding if I should make coffee and check my email or the other way around, but still 80 percent in the dreamworld and only having a really vague idea of who or what I was. I saw movement through the window, which I was not really looking at, but it focused me enough to see it, the hawk, which had just landed on a branch of the fir tree and was still bobbing a little, and with a small animal pinned in its talons.

It was a Cooper’s hawk. I checked on the internet. Someone later suggested that it might have been an osprey. I took this suggestion with some odd offense, considering. It was a hawk, I said. A Cooper’s hawk. For some reason this struck me as a crucial detail, that it be a hawk. I don’t know about birds, so I don’t know if it’s true that an osprey is kind of like a discount version of a hawk, like a fake Versace bag, or the less-pretty Olson twin. It’s hard to pinpoint why it makes a difference. I mean, seeing an osprey in the tree outside my window, in Little Italy, in urban Montreal, would be a pretty special event, a once-in-a-lifetime occurance, if I hadn’t already seen a hawk. I imagine if I ever see an osprey now it will feel a little overdone.
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