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Date:8/1/2014 11:40:55 PM
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Noticing Things, Part I
I am of the opinion that a countryman notices things far more than a city person. I was reminded of this the other day as I was walking my mail route. I heard the unmistakable scream of a Red-tailed hawk and immediately I had to stop and locate it high above. I spotted four of them actually, and they seemed more intent on playing aerial chicken than on hunting. I realized that these hawks were displaying courtship rituals. Wikipedia describes it much more succinctly than I ever could: “During courtship, the male and female fly in wide circles while uttering shrill cries. The male performs aerial displays, diving steeply, and then climbing again. After repeating this display several times, he sometimes grasps her talons briefly with his own.” I actually saw one pair almost grasp each other before veering away. It is during the late winter and early spring that Red-tails do their courting and mating.
Red-tails are noted for their ability to adapt well to urbanization. You will find them nesting in city parks and in tall trees in the suburbs. In the 26 years I have worked out of the post office in Green Bay’s west side, there have always been a pair of Red-tails that has nested on the golf-course nearby. Time and again, if I was observant, I would notice one perched on one of the light poles in the parking lot, waiting for an unobservant prey. One morning, as I was loading my mail truck, I could hear the alarm chirp of a robin. From experience, I knew that some predator or other was close by. I looked in the direction of the chirps and sure enough, there was a Red-tail atop the nearby fence. I tried to point this out to a co-worker, but she was a city girl and just thought I was somewhat strange (which, of course, I am used to).

A countryman is by nature a curious soul. He wouldn't be living the country life if he didn't enjoy or even delight in nature and living things. Time and again, I've kept track of the progress of nest building, lilacs blooming, grass greening and the latest brood of baby bunnies. I know that I am not alone in this endeavor. I'd bet that you, dear reader, can tell me which trees turn color first both on your property and on the way to work. I'd bet you could tell me where your favorite place is to see the trees turning or where you like to watch the moonrise. A countryperson takes pleasure in being swept up by, and taking part in, the natural progression of each day, season, and year. He or she also feels just a smidgen of satisfaction at being able appreciate what others cannot, or will not. More about this in my next post. -- Gary
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