Tooth and Claw

Cycling Past 50 is the book that got me thinking about what I was doing on the bike, to the small extent that I really have.  And, as I like to point out, “past 50” does not refer to km/h.  In it Joe Friel points out that anyone’s body really needs to recover from exertion, and that pressing too hard is harmful to long-range improvement goals.  This is especially important when the body takes longer to recover, as it does “past 50.”  He also advises that on training rides one should not always go the extra mile, but indeed resist the temptation to go too far.  Sometimes I ignore that advice, as I did the day before yesterday to reach 29 miles.  But this sense of being steady rather than going all-out for too long is a wise choice in both physical and mental processes.

So yesterday was a day off, giving my body a rest and my mind a chance to prepare well for my evening class.  During the afternoon I was at my desk, which sits in front of a second story double window looking out over our back yard (and the two or three behind that).  There’s a huge willow oak about ten feet directly beyond this window, with a crotch where two big branches split off at eye level.  In that crotch is a big squirrel’s nest, and I often find myself watching the three squirrels who apparently live there playing around on the branches and on top of the nest.

Yesterday I was musing and watching when in an instant a huge brown projectile crashed into the nest.  After a nanosecond of shock I realized that a big red-shouldered hawk had attacked.  This is the kind of stuff you see on the Nature Channel!  The poor hawk missed, though, as the target squirrel unaccountably escaped into the twiggy depths of the nest.  The intrepid hunter sat there for a few minutes exasperatedly plotting his next move before flying off to a nearby branch, and then away to the woods along the bike trail.

I always root for the predator in these encounters.  They’re such beautiful creatures, and we have dozens more gray tree rats than we need in this neighborhood.  Maybe next time.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010

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