The Hawk and the Storm

I recently submitted a piece to a Wisconsin literary journal looking for a piece that showcased a Midwestern state of mind. I immediately thought of the hardy souls who live in our area, who for me, define the common sense, hard working, nothing flashy attitude that I so admire. Winter was approaching, and I had this fable I'd written, sitting in my notebook, waiting patiently for an audience. Unfortunately for me, it was not accepted into the publication. Fortunately for you, I've decided to share it here instead.

This story is both a lovely piece of writing (if get to say so... and I do... because this is my blog) and also a commentary on how we Midwesterners view Winter, in all her brutal beauty and glory. I hope you enjoy, The Hawk and the Storm. 

   Photo by Jim Ridley Photography

   Photo by Jim Ridley Photography

There once was a beautiful hawk. Her outstretched wings created a dark canvas on the otherwise stark and empty sky. She often liked to spread her wings and fly, paying more attention to the beauty of her intricate feathers, than the patchwork farmland laid out below.

However, when the first fat snowflakes fell, her attention was momentarily diverted. As the flakes gathered on her head and beak and wings the hawk would marvel for hours at their sophisticated patterns and shapes. In her mind, the icy crystals were the only thing in nature that rivaled her own physical appearance. While it would have been easy for her to hate them, she just couldn’t. She loved them too much.

One winter evening, just as the sun was setting behind the distant hills, a snowstorm settled in upon the land that she called home. The hawk soared among the flurries, greeting each flake with a gentle screech as if say hello to a long lost friend. When she tired, the hawk perched upon a branch to watch the storm. When the wind picked up, the hawk fluffed up her feathers, shook the snow off her head and sighed at the beauty surrounding her.

The storm cloud parked between the bluffs and unburdened itself of its snowy load, covering the land as far as the hawk’s eye could see. The steel grey ribbon of the river was the only force powerful enough to maintain its identity. The snow equalized everything else with a blanket of white.

When the snow piled high enough to reach her branch, the hawk stomped her feet. She knew she should fly to safety, but she just couldn’t bear to leave the beautiful flakes. By the time the snow piled up to her neck the hawk knew she had made a mistake. Her wings were frozen solid. Flying away was no longer an option. Instead of wishing for a hero to come to and save her, the hawk reflected that while she would not outlive this storm, at least she would be buried in the most beautiful coffin nature could create.