Honor The Hawk

I love the sound of hawks.

That may sound strange, since I am a Buddhist, a vegetarian, a lover of life. And hawks are, of course, carnivores, raptors, killers of life.

Bur hawks live simply in harmony with their true nature. They live with the way they were designed to be.

I worked for 18 years in a place called “The Chace Mill”. New England is full of places like The Chace Mill. It is a magnificent, three story brick building, huge by 19th century standards. The posts that hold it up are made from massive hardwood, thick and strong and sturdy.  The floors could withstand a nuclear attack. Well, maybe.

The Chace Mill is next to the Winooski Falls, which to my mind is one of the most wonderful places in New England, perhaps the world. The Abnaki Indians lived by its shores before Europeans came. It must have been a wonderful life. The woods were deep and rich and vibrant, and the Winooski River flowed, then as now, from central Vermont into Lake Champlain.

Then the French came. The French allied themselves with the Iroquois, who lived mainly on the other side of Lake Champlain. The Abnaki were Algonquians, enemies of the Iroquois. But early on the Iroquois were disorganized and the Algonquians were united and strong.

Eventually, however, the Iroquois tribes united, and after a fashion became stronger than the Algonquians. And the Iroquois allied themselves with the British, the eventual winners in the battle for New England and Canada. And the Abnaki, sadly, were erased from the equation in Vermont.

Eventually Ethan Allen – the hero of Fort Ticonderoga – his brother Ira – founder of the University of Vermont – and Thomas Chittenden – namesake of Chittenden County and the first Governor of Vermont – founded the Onion River Trading Company, on the precise spot where I worked for 18 years. And through it all, the hawks lived and hunted on the Winooski – Abnaki for “Onion” – River.

Hawks have a very distinctive sound, and while I worked at the Chace Mill I heard it and listened to it often. I worked on the third floor of the mill, and often I would sit and look out my window and see the hawks hovering over the river, hunting and looking for their prey.

It is the dance of life. Life feeds on life, and that is how it is. Our opportunity as human beings is to make a choice, not to kill, to respect and revere all living things. I love the hawk for its ability to live within its own nature. I love the human even more, for its ability to rise above it.

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