Friday, January 13, 2017

Trending Now

During the past year Mars and I have noticed what seems to be an unusual number of apparent homicides by hawks in our neck of the woods – including one on our neighborhood golf course as we teed of at the first hole.  But recently things seems to be really ramping up violence-wise.

About a month ago Mars and I noticed what she has come to call a “carnage scene” on our front lawn – a randomly stacked pile of disembodied bird feathers with no signs of “exsanguination” as they say in the police procedurals, nor any more substantial body parts.  Could be caused by a hawk.  Could be caused by a cat – we have at least three of them, none ours, that prowl through our yard and lurk in the bushes near our bird feeders.  We’ve never personally witnessed a successful cat-on-bird attack on our property but, could be…

Then three days ago while I was returning from a walk around the ‘hood our across-the-street neighbor hailed me over to point our a large grays hawk perched in one of her front yard trees flaying with studied deliberation what appeared to be a small bird clutched securely within its talons.  The predator was about eight feet up in the maple tree.  I am about six and one-half feet tall and I was probably twenty feet away – so I had a really close-up view of the hawk for several minutes.  He never gave any signs of being aware of my presence.  I read somewhere that the color of a hawk’s eyes can be a strong indicator of what type it is.  This one was definitively a creepy, scary hawk.

We have had lots of sightings of these diurnal predators around our house and on our property over the years – and in the weeks immediately prior to this instance.  A couple of years back we even had a pair build a nest in one of our oak trees from mid-March until early May.  We have at least two bird identification books, and several neighbors with expert opinions – “Red Tailed”, “Red Shouldered”, “Broad-Winged” they have told us with avian certainty.  Nonetheless Mars and I have yet to come to any definitive conclusion as to what types of hawks we have seen.

This one had gray wings and head with gray and white striped breast – as did all the others.  Oh, and did I mention his eyes?

But it is not over yet.  On the next day our garage roof showed evidence of another massacre – a second explosion of feathers.  This tableau is still somehow affixed to the roofing tiles in spite of several days worth of relatively hard rain and strong breezes.

Not to go all “local television news” on this but…one instance could be an aberration – two a trend – but three is something much, much bigger than that.

Our bird feeders are intended to give our feathered friends some nourishment (even at the risk of providing bait for the hunters in our midst) while at the same time providing us with some entertainment.  An occasional massacre is okay, but two or three in such a short period of time is really pretty creepy

But there also seems to be another completely new, apparently countervailing trend in Mars and my world – “Hygge”.

We first heard about “hygge” on the “Euro Maxx – Lifestyle Europe” television program, which our local PBS station carries on one of its digital siblings. “The Danes are ranked as the world's happiest people.  Hygge may have something to do with it.  Difficult to sum up in one word, ‘hygge’ is a Danish ritual of enjoying life's pleasures.” 

Hygge, which is actually pronounced pretty close to how it looks if you already come with a built-in Danish accent, turned up again this morning on our local Public Radio station on whose website I learned that it also was shortlisted for word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary.

Both Euro Maxx and NPR stories relied heavily on a book by the CEO of “The Happiness Research Institute in Denmark” (who knew?) wherein he explains that hygge is “basically building in elements of togetherness, of savoring simple pleasures, of relaxation, of comfort on an everyday basis.”

Hyggelig (the adjective) activities can be such things as getting together with friends; reading in front of the fire place; sitting by candlelight – or, if you are a Danish Hawk, dismembering lunch in a quiet tree with the warm sun on your back.

It’s all making sense now.

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