Of hawks, naiads, & dwarves

We don’t do pictures in this anti-blog, but often I want to display, for instance, some painting, or a wonderful still photo by an ornithological friend, of the clearest blue sky, and red-tailed hawks swirling straight above — a dozen, with the suggestion of more. My swallows are gone to Parkdale-on-the-Amazon, a fortnight out, the warblers and so many of the little birds gone after them. Now it is the turn of the Accipitridae, gathering on Lake Ontario’s north shore.

They fear open water so will not cross until they can see the other side. But they seem to have lost their fear of cities, so will fly right over Parkdale North, towards Hamilton or so before whipping across. Or keep westbound to Windsor.

Or so I understand. And have acquired even in this very urban district a fund of observations, which I hesitate to share with any serious ornithologist, with his natural distrust of amateurs and incompetents. I have learnt to deny all certain knowledge. I would not positively identify a bird if he let me examine him on my Round Table with spoon and stethoscope, answered ten skill-testing questions, and showed me his birth certificate and pilot’s licence. A Cooper’s hawk that alighted on my railing, recently, I only call that because someone else did. I do not even know whether to call an accumulation of hawks a lease or a kettle. They are all, broadly, magnificent.

A wonderful blow of wind last night, to hasten them along, and cool today, after four months of heat wave (unless I exaggerate). The autumnal equinox has — as of this minute — arrived. The sun already streaks through my windows at a rakish angle. For a moment today, delicious silence in the street below, until a skateboarder broke it up with his mechanical thunder.

How could he understand? That there is an autumnal ode, by Apollinaire.

Or that I was trying to remember how it went (in the English of another poet I’ve forgotten):

Afflicted autumn and adored
You die when hurricanes batter the roses
And the orchards
Fill with snow
Poor autumn
Perish in whiteness and in wealth
Snowfall and mellow fruit
As in the deepest sky
Hawks glide
Over naiads and over dwarves
Who never loved

In distant woodlands
Rutting deer have roared
How much I love o season your clamour
The apples falling to the earth
The wind and forest weeping
Their tears in autumn leaf by leaf

The leaves
A train
Disposed of