Weaving winter stock, I just spent a very quiet month in a borrowed farmhouse, alone with a family of kestrels. The babies, a male and a female, are just learning to fly now as I depart. I spotted the first fledgling last week crouched in the bushy mint beneath the nest, nervously hidden. Fallen? Jumped? Pushed?
I’ve seen them hopping between logs with some wing help practice. The mother has been more present than the father, bringing mousy morsels back from the wheat fields some twenty times in a day, till nine at night. Sometimes I’ve spotted the whole family perched in the tall willow, or in the big walnut, or, more quarrelously, in the nearer oak.
I’ve woken in the morning to the little crang of claws on the tin roof outside my window, and watched them land, look about, check me out, duck the swallows’ divebombs and take off again, from my bed. I’ve had supper in the garden while they had supper on the woodpile. I’ve cleared some undergrowth so they’d have more perches unsurrounded by predator cover. I’ve tidied their tinder-dry carcasses from the patio. Followed trails of entrails. Swept up white down from the sitting room. Woven kestrel colours into a cowl. Said goodbye honoured and sad.
Every time I leave a place I leave a bit of my soul, ouch. Every place gives me a generous bit of hers to carry with me.