Visiting my mom for mothers day we were sitting in the patio looking out over a golf course. We could see the lush green grass of a long par 5. This is a tree lined, straight lane of grass surrounded by homes. Unbeknownst to us a drama was about to unfold. This is the story of the gopher, the hawk, and the ravens.
The sun had just dipped below the skyline of the structures that bordered the large grass field. Looking carefully up into the trees, the gopher decided it was safe enough to dart across the grass to grab the tasty morsel that human had dropped earlier in the day. He needed to watch those black squawking ravens a few trees down, but they usually would not put up the effort to chase the likes of him. With a burst of speed, and all the courage he could muster the small little pocket gopher made a dash for it. He was in the plastic wrapper in a flash, elated with his victory. He moment of glee was soon dashed when he realize the wrapper had no contents. Just one small sugary spot of chocolate to just put extra emphasis on what could have been. The gopher sniffed around just to make sure, sometimes a few precious bits of chocolate might fall nearby. This momentary loss of focus, his desperate attempt to make something out of his risky journey ended up being his downfall. Just as the gopher lifted his head to look back towards his last hole when a sudden dark shadow fell upon him and within an instant he was being smashed into the grass. Then with sudden speed was being lifted into the sky, sharp talons crushing the breathe out of him.
The young hawk had learned well from his mother. She taught him to hide in the branches of the Eucalyptus and watch carefully across the carpet of green. If you focused just right, melting into a zone of silent observation the slightest movement could be detected. With care the hawk settled into a copse of branches that concealed his large torso well. His heart rate dropped, he settled in, eyes remained fixed taking in the entire field. He saw a little movement off in the distance, a group of ravens goofing around flapping back and forth teasing each other. Morons. Another flicker, but he knew by now not to react to certain types of movement. He knew instinctively that this was a small branch or leaf blowing in the breeze of the early evening. He caught most of his prey in the waning hours of the daylight, the conditions were perfect and the prey unsuspecting. Then he was gone, the branches of the tree hardly moved and he was plunging toward the ground at terminal velocity. He saw the movement and it was consistent, he knew immediately that it was a pocket gopher, perfect way to start off the evening. His speed picked up and he angled downward moving in the direction that he knew his prey would end up at, then at the right moment he spread out his 6 foot wing span, caught the breeze and just as the gopher was looking up, he had him. Just like his mother had shown him, executed perfectly. No time to mess around, he needed to climb back up into the trees and away from any onlookers. Two or three quick thrusts of his wings and craaaaaaawwwww.
The lead raven was keen on what was going on around him. His cousins, their normally frivolous selves were bouncing around as usual. They were almost giddy at finding a shiny metallic substance earlier that day, kids these days. They needed to be more observant. He saw the flight of the hawk and new instantly he was on to something. He knew by the descent that he was after something exciting. He quickly got the attention of the other ravens and he was off, trotting rapidly at first and then with a spread of the wings holding very close to the ground. He knew that the larger bird would be focused on this prey and not see the other birds coming at him even with the ground. Just as the hawk lifted from the ground he saw their chance. They swooped up and disrupted the flight of the hawk. The larger bird was not as agile in the still night air. He needed much more time to build up momentum and within moments the ravens had him grounded. Now it was just a matter of time. They started harassing the hawk, snapping at him, making fun of him, distracting him. This was a game that his cousins needed no coaching on, for now they realized the intent of this game. Get the hawk to give up and leave behind his prize and they would all get to eat some nice gopher this evening. Why do any hard work, when this nice hawk did it all for them?
The dance continued for awhile until the hawk, sensing that he might be slowly drawn into a squabble on the ground made a run for it and propelled himself in the air. He made some progress, but the effort to get moving tired him and soon enough the ravens were on him, crashing into him and causing him to lose speed. The hawk, however, was able to perform a diving move and with that move gained enough airspeed to start a evasive spiraling move that quickly dislodged his attackers. That moved saved him, but unfortunately he lost grasp of the gopher who plummeted toward the earth.
The gopher hit hard, and was definitely injured by the feel of his right leg. He scampered and limped as fast as he could to a clump of grass that he hoped would conceal him. If he was good at anything, it was hiding in this field. All the time he spend investigating the area, hopefully will pay off.
The hawk accelerated away to higher elevation. The ravens backed off quickly. Their advantage was over, if they were not careful a very pissed off predator could come flying through the sky and decide to have some nice raven for dinner. The leader called the retreat when, hey wait a minute where are his cousins. He looked back and there they were closer to the ground. They were flying toward a clump of grass clearly looking for something. Did the hawk drop that gopher?
I do not know the outcome of this story. I am sort of wondering what the outcome should be? I think that there might be a parable buried into this somehow. It seems significant. Perhaps a story of courage, or luck, or teamwork, or perseverance. At any rate, I thought it was a good moment of entertainment this evening, and therefore made it into my blog.
A great story …. and a great sight to behold.