Saturday, January 8, 2011

Be the Redtail?

 Click on photos for full size image.
There was an Air Stagnation Advisory for the valley this week. It seemed fitting, and not just for the air quality. It feels like nothing is moving. It may be that emotional back eddy that can form just past the riffle and run of the holidays. Or it may be the simple fact that I haven't had a fish on the line since November.
There was a time when I hung up my rod in the fall and waited for spring. There was a simplicity in that. It meant that winter weather and schedule and sickness simply didn't have any impact at all on fishing--because there was no fishing.
But that was before I lived in Steelhead country. Now the opportunity to fish exists virtually year round. Let me rephrase that: it's legal to fish virtually year round. But all too often in winter the opportunity just isn't there. Schedule, sickness, and especially the vagaries of the weather, all impact the ability to get out and fish. Add to that the fact that the fisheries and the fish are more limited in winter and you get the potential for far more frustration than in summer. Send out the Fishing Stagnation Advisory.
Then I saw the Redtail.

It sat in the tree, simply waiting, for a long time.

I doubt that it was comparing in its mind the travails of winter hunting with the ease of summer hunting. I doubt that it was feeling frustrated or impatient. It was just hunting, doing what it does the way it needs to in the environment in which it finds itself.

While I watched, it lifted out of the tree, drifted a few feet on the wind, folded its wings, and dropped like a stone into the grass, talons outstretched. I waited to see what it had caught. But when it lifted up again its talons were empty. A miss.
It flew slowly over to another perch, settled down, and began to wait--and hunt--once again.  

It seemed so familiar: long periods of waiting, a flurry of activity, and, more often than not, a miss. The lesson, I thought at first, was that I needed to be the Redtail. Maybe the real lesson, the one that puts things back in perspective, is that, after all, the Redtail is me.

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