"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."  --William Shakespeare

Entries in hawks (2)


The Convocation of Animals



Photo courtesy of Suki Edwards

Some of us gathered at a computer, adding names to the guest list for Jane’s memorial celebration.


Some of us had just finished writing her obituary.


One of us had arranged on her bed an embroidered gold, red and white kimono with a medicine necklace, both gifts sent to Jane.


Some of us felt her death as so strange that our cells would be rearranged.


Some of us went to a dumb film and drank too much one night.


Some nights some of us dreamed of Jane.


Some nights some of us couldn’t sleep.


One of us made long lists of things to do.


One of us saw images of Jane’s sculptures in cloud shapes.


One of us had a massage and the masseuse touched her back above her heart and released the rain.


Some of us went to the market and bought Gerber daisies and sunflowers to honor her innocent spirit.


Some of us went shopping for candles, and found white lotus blossoms that lit up the moment they touched water.


One of us passed an empty frame in the store, and was seized by the knowledge that she was gone.


Some of us were soothed by calls and messages from family and friends.


Some of us talked one night about how impossible it seemed to write a eulogy, our feelings for her too large to fit into three minutes.


One night one of us said, All I want to do is stand up and howl.


Photo courtesy of Hank Kitchell


One of us said, we could make different animal sounds, and began to hee-haw like a donkey.


One of us said, we could find animal masks and perform a chorus of animals to honor her, since many of her sculptures were of animals.


One of us laughed and said, But wouldn’t it seem too weird?


Some of us went to look for masks, but couldn’t find Owl, Fox, Bear, Cat, Monkey, Donkey.


One evening the ceremony was held at the farm of friends, a sweep of lawn sloping down to a lake fringed by tall pines.


Some of us who owned the farm lost a brother days before Jane’s memorial, but still wanted to host the event.


Some of us came early to set up tables under open tents like sails.


Some of us created a slide show of Jane’s life that was shown on a giant screen.


Some of us gathered songs she loved, and one of us played them throughout the evening.


Some of us opened boxes of candles and placed them on a table at the edge of the lake.


Some of us fanned open paper flowers for the tables.


One of us gave food from his own bakery.


Some of us, the first guests to arrive, were followed down the hill by a hawk.


Some of us had travelled many miles across the ocean.


One of us bicycled there from Victoria, British Columbia.


Some of us had known her since childhood.


Some of us had been her husbands, including her first and last.


Some of us had been caring for her for years.


One of us had moved to Seattle from New Zealand to be by her side the last months of her life.


Some of us saw sea gulls and thought of Jane.


Some of us saw whales.


One of us saw a sparrow hawk flying with another hawk through the desert.


One of us saw a turquoise dragonfly dart across the lake.


Some of us gave eulogies and some of us wept.


One of us heard a wise woman say that in certain African funeral services, hecklers in the back of the room balance the gravitas with irreverence.


Photo courtesy of Hank Kitchell


Some of us, after the eulogies, put on masks—of Horse, Squirrel, Cardinal, Rat, Pigeon, Chicken, Unicorn and Duck—and danced and called out to Jane through the voices of the animals.


Some of us sat with old friends telling stories of Jane all night.


Some of us gathered around the campfire at lake’s edge listening to stories about animal visitations after death.


Photo courtesy Suki Edwards


Some of us wrote messages to Jane on the candles, and floated them on the lake after dark, like fireflies under a three-quarters full moon.


One of us wrote, “I’m still in love with you, Jane.”


One of us heard the Rodriguez song, “I think of you,” and wept in the darkness.


One of us had cold ankles as the night grew deeper, and a white dog named Lily came and sat backwards so that her hind fur warmed those ankles. 


Some of us human creatures felt the grief lift because we had joined together to celebrate our love for Jane.


Photo courtesy Hank Kitchell








We haven’t seen a hawk yet in Paris, but we’ve seen pictures.

Just before you die, everything in your character seems to become reduced down to its essence.

In cooking, a reduction means cooking a liquid until some of the water evaporates and the remaining liquid is thicker and has a more intense flavor.

As a boy, he was home-schooled by his mother; they covered eight grades in six years. When he entered a private high school at the age of 12, he was smaller than the other freshmen. He made an astute decision: he would have no enemies in his life. Instead he would make friends.

He changed physically, grew tall and handsome, but that decision formed the core of him. Everyone would be his friend, no one above him, no one below.

His Amherst College roommate had a blind date one night with a girl from Mt. Holyoke, a blonde beauty, with brains, spirit and character.

When the roommate returned, he asked him if he’d mind if he asked her out on a date.

That was fine, the roommate said. He’d only just met her. She didn’t belong to him.



Hawks are the swiftest of birds.

He and the blonde beauty were engaged before long, and the roommate saw that he’d been too slow to recognize what his friend had instantly seen.

They married in Massachusetts in 1943.

Few Americans doubted then that fighting the Axis was a just cause. He joined the Navy and was soon commanding a sub chaser in the Pacific.

English, Irish, Welsh and French by ancestry, he was born and bred in New England.

After the war was over, he and his bride settled in Massachusetts.

They wanted a family, and one, two, three years later, they had three babies.

They were focused in life, and focused in work. He found a job in a pre-fabricated housing company, doing what he loved to do from the time he was five years old: building something.

No one is lucky all the time, even a man who is strong, focused and kind.

The company went bankrupt.

But he’d married a fearless woman.



Let’s go west, she said.

They drove across the continent in a Ford sedan, looking for job opportunities in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

They sat on the beach in Santa Monica, looked at each other and said, All the doors were open in Arizona.

They moved their young family to a small house in Phoenix, bought with a GI loan.

He worked for other contractors.

She sewed curtains for their house, clothes for her children and tiny clothes for the two girls’ dolls.

Then, with the right partner, he started his own construction company.

She helped him as the company secretary.

Do it right the first time, was their motto.



Get to the goal swiftly, like a hawk.

Vision and passion, strength and focus—these are qualities one needs to find the right livelihood, choose the right mate.

But what if at the core your intention was to be a friend to everyone?

Wouldn’t you then approach the business of constructing buildings and houses in an open and generous manner?

Wouldn’t you offer jobs to those whom others tried to exclude?

This he did, being among the first to hire Native Americans, blacks and Latinos in Phoenix.  

Wouldn’t you offer employees the chance to buy shares in your company long before it was common practice, simply because, if your profits were increasing because of their good work, their profits should increase, too?



And if you were married to a woman who was not just smart, but had X-ray insight (the first time she saw Richard Nixon’s face on TV, she said, “He’s a crook”)—wouldn’t you listen to her, really listen, when she argued against the Vietnam War?

Wouldn’t you, a Republican businessman in a Republican state, have to re-think your convictions?

Wouldn’t you even have to admit that the Democratic Party was a better friend to everyone than the Republican, and change parties, even though almost every business associate and friend you had was Republican?

And when you and your wife, who now had five children, traveled through China in the ‘70s, and you saw how humane the Chinese practice of providing on-site childcare at work was, on returning home, wouldn’t you offer it to your employees?

And wouldn’t you laugh good-naturedly when you showed people slides of your China trips, and they called you and your wife “Commie pinkos?”

Was there anything that could obstruct or discourage your friendly approach to the world?

I never saw it.

Not when your powers failed you one by one.

Not when you could no longer work.

Not when you had to give up driving, mobility in the world.

Not when your memory started to go.

Not when it was mostly gone.

That sweet core of goodness, the kind treatment of others—that was there till you took your last breath.



You looked so much like a hawk, the slight curve of your nose, like the beak of the peregrine falcon on your family’s ancient coat of arms.

The morning after eleven of us gathered around your bed to say goodbye, all of us loving you deeply, a large hawk appeared outside your home, perched on a palo verde, looking fiercely in at the place where you and she used to sit and eat breakfast.

He looked in at your blonde beauty and your two youngest daughters.

He swiveled his handsome head to look at your two oldest daughters in the guest room.

He looked south towards the place where your son lived.

And then he flew away.

Mother had never seen a hawk so close to your home before.

She guessed that it was a Swainson’s.

I called Richard in Playa del Rey. As I told him about your beautiful death, a hawk circled the courtyard of our home. This was the first time he’d seen a hawk anywhere close to our house.

Later, you circled overhead when we walked by the sea.

Here in Paris we haven’t seen you soaring yet. But we are looking.