A Keepers Tale
Few Winters past, I found myself cozied-up in a snow bank against a tree stump watching my Redtail Hawk choke down the fuzzy end of a Carolina Grey Squirrel. This was the bitter end of an epic chase across the tree tops as the hawk skillfully laddered the squirrel into check position. With nowhere left to go the squirrel made a last-ditch gallant leap of faith into oblivion. Check mate! The hawk stooped in at blazing speed to reach out ever so delicately seizing squirrel behind the head and free-fall helicopter style 80 feet to the ground landing with a thud! I made in quickly and assisted in the dispatch as now fur and feather were in a real battle for life and death. Hawk eventually squeezed the life out of squirrel and the feeding began. First by rolling the package over to his back, plucking fur and finding a place to break into the fresh steaming reward.
The consumption process normally takes about an hour and has been repeated millions of times over eons of history. Down for the count so the speak, as any good codger worth his salt would do. I assembled the vintage SVEA 123 brass burner and rolled water into a smoking hot cup of Earl Grey. The steam spiraled up as I added a dram of Grand Marnier brandy from my monogrammed silver flask stashed in my vest pocket. Confident and warm now with a coupla Saluki hounds nestled close we settled in for a good winters nap. Free to dream and explore all that came to mind while hawk feasted on her much earned victory.
Time passed quickly and with sun on my face the Nobel bells, attached to the Hawks leather cuffs, went silent signaling she was done for the day and obviously well cropped for tomorrow. Leveraged myself up from the cozy nest, stashed the gear in my pack and grabbed my hooked walking staff. Conjured a sharp whistle and a big ball of feathers instantly appeared on my gloved fist. She strutted her proud self adjusting every feather perfectly back into position. She then feaked her beak on the gloves gauntlet, gave me a passing wink and took a hunched posture ready to be carried through the brambles back to the Hacienda.
Some may rightly ask why not let her fly home? Well, a freshly cropped Hawk will take perch to the nearest tree limb and sit there until they get hungry. Then if you don’t want her venturing off miles on her own to feed that hunger again you will be camped under that tree waiting several days for her to come down to the glove. It’s actually a lot like your sitting in that pfat leather easy chair of yours after dinner not moving again until the TV turns to snow you might make it upstairs to bed but not going very far.
On the return hike breaking trail out of the thicket with Hawk seized to the leather glove I could feel her iron talons grip with every step to maintain balance. As we plotted along I happen to notice a particular young sapling that had been strangled by a honeysuckle vine. The vine had created a very nice spiral, cut deep into the bark and seemed to me most apparent at the time to be suggesting a greater cause. Accepting the invitation I dug it out by the root and hauled the fine specimen back to the barn. After returning Hawk to her mews I began to examine the stick and found it to be a suitable keeper for carving. Stashed the stick between rafters against a tin roof to dry and there it sat mellowing with age, and waiting for my motivation to strike.
Eventually the motivation did arrive on schedule. Now as you can see from the photograph it took a few hours to chase this snake out of that fine young Dogwood sapling. The bark was louder than the bite but did render a well-textured Copper head snake stick fitted with .22 caliber copper bullets for eyes. The handle is wedged in place with epoxy and a brass rod for support. Seven coats of Helmsmen Spar Varnish should protect the open-carry device for many years to come.
The alchemical magic comparison here is to suggest through Gnostic anthropology a naturally occurring phenomenon of serpent energy and how it flows from root chakra spiraling up the spine to find its own temple Crown. The place in the skull, that Golgotha where each mind is crucified to find its resurrected awareness releasing incessant energy. This Christic cipher is suggested by John 3: 14-15 inscribed on the handle of the serpent stick and was indeed a lesson taught by Moses as he lifted the Caduceus. Moses patiently coaxed his people from their individual bondage as they were purified by the wilderness experience.
This was a totally enjoyable winter day adventure, no lame long guns were used to dispatch game only a well-trained hawk that allowed a peek into a veiled dimension not normally visited by indoctrinated minds. The sounds of silence in the snow where thoughts are cleared from echoes of egoed past. True, it did take me a few hours to chase the serpent out of the stick but now what to do with the polished piece?
Thinking this creation would be fitting for my Dad. He was really good at strategically placing knots on my head and equally talented at polishing them off again. It was my sister who suggested building a cane for our Dad. It did come to my mind during the process of drawing out a useful walking cane. The Gnostic tale of Cane and Able, one brother unselfishly enabled the other to experience unique opportunities but in the process exposed a treasonist character seeking reward and willing to compromise honor in exchange. There you have the story of how this homemade Copper headed water moccasin snake stick found a home in the keep of a guy that polished all the knots off my head and found balance in the process of living.
Beckons yet another question though; Are we all ever really finished or polished,,, maybe just coated with a resistance to shed challenges as they come our way. So, find yourself a comfortable seat warm your fine self with a feathered or furry friend and chase the proverbial snake out of a wood pile to help someone else kick it on down the road. Till next time!