I was walking toward my train station this morning at my usual hurried pace when I saw a guy stopped in the middle of the sidewalk ahead of me doing something on his phone. I was about to be irritated with this guy for stopping on the sidewalk for no apparent reason. I stepped around him and kept moving.
“Holy shnit”, I said startled.
A giant falcon was proudly perched on the grass less than a foot from where I stepped. It was sitting in the morning sun, majestically golden and serious with a pigeon clasped in its deadly talons. I did a double take at this giant predatory bird. I had to convince myself that I was actually that close. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen a falcon, but it may have been the first time I ever saw one with a fresh kill and so very close.
I understood why that guy was stopped now. He was clearly taking a photo of this falcon to eventually post on Twitter or Facebook or Pintrest or maybe even Myspace because he’s all retro and doesn’t get sucked into the latest fad. So his stoppage on the sidewalk made sense to me. I looked back again as I walked just in time to see the falcon take off skyward with the fresh dead pigeon dangling from its claws.
I thought about as I walked, rode the train, the bus and eventually got to work and parked myself in this cube where I’ll while away the next seven and a half hours. I’ll get focused on the tasks I have before me and complete them with all the diligence they deserve, but in the back of my mind I’ll still be thinking about this falcon and the pigeon.
I wonder if there was a sort of epic air battle between them; something akin to the German WWI ace, Baron Von Richthofen (also known as The Red Baron), and everybody else in the air at the time. I wonder if there was swooping and diving and chasing all over the sky between this predator and prey. Or was it far stealthier I wonder? Could the pigeon have just been minding its own business, looking for something to poop on, when the falcon dove in from above and snatched it's life away?
I was impressed with nature in a more personal way than if I had seen this falcon on a TV nature program. If time had permitted I would have stopped right next the other guy and watched with great interest. Of course I didn’t have that opportunity because I had to get to work. It’s not as if I could tell my bosses, “Yeah, sorry I’m late, I was watching a falcon”, or, “Yeah, I was Falcon late ‘cause I was watching dis falcon falcon”.
I don’t think that would go over very well.
As a lifelong city dweller it’s rare that I get to see the larger predators of nature just out and about on a shopping trip. The larger animals I’ve seen have always been in a zoo and I’ve not been up close with anything that could tear my face off in any real way. I did think about my walking cap as it is gray and I think could easily be mistaken for a pigeon. I started to worry that a falcon might snatch the cap from off my head, discover that it was not a pigeon, and turn around to kick my ass.
I mean I imagined the falcon turning around mid flight, realizing the hat it grabbed was empty, then curling back around in the sky, landing, walking up to me, lighting a cigarette, rolling up it’s winged arm to reveal a “MOM” tattoo and then proceed to beat me up for faking him out with my gray hat. I mean, I don’t think I could take him.
So now I’m sitting in my cube, writing this, wondering if I’m more pigeon than man. Frankly, if you want to get metaphoric, I would say that at times, I’m very much the pigeon, caught in the talons of streaking death from above. Then again, I would think that we all are at some point, both predator and prey. Today I’m prey, tomorrow, maybe I’ll be predator. I just hope no one stops on the sidewalk to take a picture of it to post on some social web site.