Last week, I saw the hawk up close. He hovered low, just a few feet away from me, then hopped on the ground and disappeared into the woods. He was close enough for me to appreciate his size and his size startled me plenty. It is unnerving to be that close to a hawk, but it's also thrilling and since I have started meditating, I take every hawk encounter as a symbol of something important. I never know what it means, but it is intriguing to try and figure it out. The meditation practice lets me be more in tune with the natural world. I notice more because I pay more attention. Then a couple of days ago when I pulled into my garage after dark, my headlights lit up the beady eyes of an animal with a long tensile tail, a rat tail. This rat was larger than any rat of any nightmare. Rodents scare the shit out of me. We stared at each other for a few minutes before he decided to scurry away under a couch I am temporarily storing in there. It gave me enough time to decide that the animal I was locked in a staring contest with was a muskrat.
I was terrified to get out of my car and walk the few feet to the connecting door of my house. I did it, but it wasn't graceful. It occurred to me to check into a hotel, but instead I barricaded the bottom of the door jamb with steel wool and ran upstairs to cower in my bedroom. It didn't help that dozens of calls to my husband Joe's cell phone went unanswered. By the time he got home, I had worked myself up into a most unmeditative state.
It is not so pleasant to think about what the meaning of crossing paths with a muskrat amounts to. A hawk soars overhead in capacious circles of open sky; a muskrat scurries and has that disgustingly long awful tail. I am nervous every time I walk back into my garage and I am finding no peace with the rat. If that hawk in any kind of a friend, he'll have muskrat for dinner tonight.