Heckled By ParrotsBlue Sky WritingRebecca K. O'Connor

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The Moment that Made You

I was a process server with an attorney services business, serving evictions, foreclosures, and sundry subpoenas and complaints. We were in the middle of the last housing crash and I was 23, working 14 hour days and immediately despised by all whose misfortune led me to their door. I was living in an apartment above my father’s garage because I had just sent the stalker, who had walked into my rented condo and nearly shot my baby brother, to jail. Yet even the cloistered press of butting up against my father’s life couldn’t squeeze away the night frights. My father and I were in a lot of ways strangers and the grandfather who raised me was downstairs slowly leaving us with a sadness and a readiness that I refused to accept.  Nothing was okay for me, unless I was flying my hawk.

Dirt hawking alone pushes your physical limits.  Trip on wires, stumble into squirrel holes, scrape yourself on gnarled vines, beat bush, bake in the sun and race after slips. When the hunt is over, you’re as exhausted as the hawk, but you feel just as complete. The punishment is part of the bliss and I was slowly finding enlightenment.

The moment that made me happened at dusk. I was alone with my hawk, who was panting with a jack rabbit in her feet. I looked up with sweat stung eyes, stretching aching muscles and realized I wasn’t just alone, I was someplace both out of this time and critical to its existence. I was a hunter thanking the rabbit that fed her hawk, sating the sand with perspiration and blood, just as we had taken the life that sprung from it. The air was spiced with fermenting feral grapes, the song birds hidden in the vines now accepting us with their evening chatter. We were part of something immense and curved back on itself, but also something invisible.

The rush hour hive of vehicles passing close enough to make out my features didn’t see me and I knew they were a piece of the world I must return to, but I also knew the space I was in would call me back. It would keep calling even if I covered my ears and screamed about money and possessions and responsibility. I knew I was now owned by a wild and dangerous place that would steal hawks, destroy dogs and break my heart   –yet always give back more than she took. It was only five acres of forgotten vineyard, a watermark on the page of what progress had done to Ontario, California, but it was everything and I was a falconer.

And I’m not the only one, I know. What was the moment that made you?


  1. Reid Farmer says:

    Just wonderful, Rebecca

  2. Angela C. Herschel says:

    BRAVO Rebecca !
    Seeing the clay lick near the Tambopata Research Center for the first time at almost 5 AM was my moment.
    Ciao Angela Cancilla Herchel

  3. rebecca says:

    Thanks, Reid. I appreciate it.

    Angela, I think the clay licks would be huge for me too, the sound and the color. I really must get there one of these days –soon.

  4. Wow, beautiful post. Very well done.

    I’d say my moment would be the day I got the job I now have. That led to me getting involved in the outdoor world, which led to me meeting more outdoor bloggers, which ultimately led to the Outdoor Bloggers Summit. If you told me four years ago that I’d be where I am now, I would have laughed hysterically.

    Despite that, I don’t think there are many other places I’d rather be.

  5. Good post — you nailed it.

    I just got around to updating my blogroll with your new name and URL.

  6. mdmnm says:

    Very nice!

    I’ve been “made” pretty much for my entire life. First game at about six, first fish before I can really remember (but there are photos). While exposure doesn’t guarantee affinity, in my case being outdoors and particularly hunting and fishing have been one of the best parts of my life always. I might have come close to forgetting that a time or two, but never for very long.