The hawk, golden wings rustling in a stiff, cold breeze, floats above the prairie, eyeing its prey. A tiny movement in the sea of grass probably stirred the majestic beast from the powerline that served as a makeshift perch: The hawk takes to the air with a speed that defies my poor eyesight’s ability to follow it through the sky.
It seems to halt in midair, its wings now spread wide, catching the currents of the invisible force that stirs the brush and ripples the waters of the nearby creek, the sky framing the scene in a background of china blue and wispy clouds, floating like ghosts in a sea of eternity.
Three longhorns stand by a fence near the powerline. The red one, his face marked with a narrow ribbon of white that looks like a desperate West Texas stream in summer, pokes his snout through the wire, turning as if to follow the course of the mighty bird of prey, as symbolic of this land in its own way as the rangy, ornery longhorns themselves.
The longhorn’s glance seems like an act of acknowledgement from one king to another, though the hoofed monarch lost his plains kingdom long ago, becoming a logo for sports teams and “Cow Town” itself, instead.
Maybe he is saying goodbye.
The golden missile darts for the target and disappears from view, then is back again, heading for the powerline loft with something in its talons I can’t make out.
I’m watching from the rear-view mirror, you see, and the kids are hollering at me to hurry up—we’re late for Girl Scouts, or choir, or something. I can’t remember what.
But the hawk takes his time. And those longhorns have all the time in the world.
Or do they? Do we?
Up ahead, the earthmovers aren’t taking their time in demolishing yet another stretch of prairie, making room for Heaven-knows-what. And Heaven, existing outside our manic world of timecards and schedules and second hands and deadlines, does know what. I decide it’s better that we don’t, sigh, and speed up again.
This is no world for coasting, not even here. The roads and powerlines and radios and cell phones take care of that. They won’t leave us alone.
And the schedule says that patch of ground—ugly, I guess, in the eyes of the absentee planners who bracket our lives in neat segments of manmade time—has to go, making way for a housing development (something like “Whispering Oaks,” maybe) or a strip mall, one indistinguishable from thousands of others. For the planners are now making war on geography itself, rendering the habitat of the homegrown Texan as endangered as that of the hawk, unaware that his days are numbered here.
Central Standard Time, Greenwich Mean Time, Break Time!, Quality Time—whatever you call it, it amounts to No Time Left for You. And no place, either.
I’m driving too slowly again, seemingly creeping along. Though I’m a person who doesn’t like to be late—I’ve always seen that as a breach of good manners—I just let it go. Then somebody hollers something like Hurry up! Did you know that the so-and-so’s set their clocks ahead 30 minutes so that they won’t be late for anything?
Heaven help them.
So I speed up a little and remember a friend who, having heard my mother had been ill, took some time to call me on Christmas Day. Oh, I’ve got time, he says, for my daughter and my wife now. Been laid off. I say we’ll pray for him, and he comes back with “Thanks, but don’t you all worry about me, now, I’ll sign up for those classes I was meaning to take and get something better. Nothing but time, old friend.” I hung up, aching a little inside, since I hadn’t thought to call that old friend in 20 years.
But time flies.
Everybody seems calmed down now, as if they can read my mind, but I know I’m not a hard one to figure.
When we get where we are going, I open the door and hug my daughter. Not to worry, little one, we have all the time in the world.
Leave a Reply