The Hunted and the Hunter Mind

From my desk at work, I watch the hawk of Riverside Church dive bomb a flock of pigeons. It is impossible not to watch, like a car wreck at the side of the road. It is thrilling.

I imagine the rush of excitement as the pigeons circle and escape. I imagine the hunger of the hawk. I stare and hope for something dramatic to happen. I have never seen the kill. But occasionally — oh, this is rich — I see a blizzard of white feathers rain outside of my window. Joseph Conrad summed it up well, “The horror, the horror.”

My window to Riverside Church is like my internet screen. I watch and wait for something delicious to happen. I am a passive watcher, a vicarious hawk or pigeon. I imagine my escape or my hunger.

But the internet is just a window into life. It is not life. I am not a primordial being — panting, fluttering, escaping. I am a creature of reason, contemplative and kind. I make eye contact with my fellow human beings.

Life happens, not in the spires of the Gothic church with wings and flapping, but down below where mortals dwell, where smiles are exchanged and pleasantries murmured.

Dan Licardo inspired this post with a Facebook post about the hawk of Riverside Church.

Where Is that Harbor Seal?

On Saturday, I ran to the end of the 70th Street pier in Riverside Park. As I passed the kayak launch site, empty now, I wished that I could see that harbor seal again. The one with the one droopy whisker and the big black eyes.

About a year ago, Max, the doorman, told me a seal was hanging out at the boat basin. At dusk, I took the kids to see it. Our photo didn’t turn out, but there it was at the boat basin. The next week it was at the kayak launch site. It was yawning and stretching. Just lookin’ around.

We dialed 3-1-1. The animal rescue or marine biology people (or whomever 3-1-1 connected us to) said they would not come rescue it, because – from what we described, it was healthy.

After all, it was a harbor seal in a harbor. No matter that the harbor was the Hudson River.

On my weekend run this time, the only wildlife I saw were squirrels, ducks, and, I’m not sure they count – dogs. I didn’t even see one of the red-tailed hawks near the 80th street playground. They’re so vast you’d think they could swoop down and, with their talons, grab a toddler.

The best part of running in New York City is the wildlife. And when you run again, you remember.