Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Salt in the Wound

I fear this post might be like salt in the wound for Stephen,
but want to document these thoughts none the less...

I make no secret of the fact that I'm no animal person. Or that I have a degree of continual angst for my husband's falconry addiction. But I've also long since figured out that if I can't beat em', join em'. Not on every flight for sure, but on occasion at least. The boys love these birds and my husband simply can't be happy without them.

They make awfully cute little models in the soft evening light during a family flight, eh?

It wasn't that long ago that Stephen had quite a few birds- seriously, like 14 of them or something.
But when we moved and when he took on aquariums as a bigger part of his world again,
all of that changed. For the past two flying seasons, there's been
just one.
One bird that he had to recover from beyond the horizon the first three or four flights.
The bird that I told him needed to belong to someone else at that point.
The one bird he stuck with anyway.
The one bird that, in our minds at least, won the Utah Sky Trials last year.
The bird that caught Stephen one of his beloved sage grouse on just his third flight out this year.
The one bird that he has loved and enjoyed more than any other, ever.

And the one bird that crazily, unknowingly, slipped his transmitter in a broad piece of desert near Arco last weekend. After a stunning flight, Stephen started to track him and realized his transmitter- the small device he attaches to the bird to be able to get a signal telling him where it is- was on the ground without the bird. By the time he found the bird without the help of the transmitter, it had eaten enough to no longer be interested in Stephen, whom it basically only sees as an easy food source.

After scouring the lonely desert for two days, real life had to kick in again.
We don't live in the broad desert near Arco.
We can't take a week off of work or school on a strand of hope that,
I might add, has a way of getting thinner and thinner
as you peel your eyes for a speck on the hill or in the sky.

So, we packed back up and drove home, feeling like we had left a piece of our family behind.
Even I felt like that. Even I was... sad. For real sad.
I think Stephen has dealt with it by not thinking about it too much... 
In usual form, his network of falconry cronies have rallied around him
with kind words and, believe it or not, offers of new birds.
So he won't be without for long, at least not physically.

Emotionally is another story. He'll be glassing the Arco air forever, I daresay. Maybe even the anywhere air... I doubt he'll ever let go of that last thread of hope that the bird that was the one will somehow show up again... 



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