I should have turned back.
I should have turned back that February morning in 1937.
If only I had known then how the story would end. I thought little about fate or outcomes back then.
I walked up a small hill that morning, listening to melting snow crackling under my boots, the unexpected warmth of the morning air flowing over my cheeks. Somehow, I knew it would be a day to reckon with, to hold fast in my memory for some use in the future. My journey—my adventure—was beginning.
Strange, but I still remember something so vividly from that day. Off to my right, I saw a bird; it was a broad-winged hawk sitting on a tree branch, poised for flight. The hawk looked down at me for a fleeting instant with its piercing eyes, and with an explosion of silence, its wings lifted the bird up into the brisk air. As the branch shuttered violently from the hawk’s take-off, shedding snow sparkled like myriad diamonds in the morning light. The bird started climbing into the morning sky in tight spirals of increasing altitude; higher and higher it climbed, into the deep indigo overhead.
What drew me to that bird in flight?
I held my breath and watched until it was a small speck in the sky, soaring on lofty air currents, oblivious to the invisible boundary, separating Vermont and Canada far below, needing only the lift of air flowing under its wings. The bird soared upon the warm air currents, patiently waiting for an unwitting breakfast to come out of hiding.
I felt a strong sense of rising melancholy as I watched. The hawk continued its languid circling until abruptly, like the dive-bombers in the newsreels, the majestic bird tilted slightly and began to plunge down, down, down. At that moment, I realized the bird was a symbol of my leaving, of why I was on this journey in the first place.
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