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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Running to stand still

These past few weeks I've been blogging fairly regularly. Now, for some strange reason, I feel like I can't really focus on what to say next. I believe that part of the reason comes from the sort of stress related to the work I always have to do towards the end of any university semester. Another part is the transient aspect of my current surroundings.

All this has set me thinking about what I'm reading in the news these days. To me the international news scene seems to be experiencing a sort of mediocre predictability. I don't mean the blast at the American Consulate in Saudi Arabia, but things like marking the military's 1000th combat death in Iraq and almost everything else that's been going on this week. I don't really know how to explain it. And if you know me beyond this blog, you can really understand how unsettled all this makes me feel.

Looking at the local news scene in Malta I see a pretentious story (Balzan Community Radio in Guinness World Record attempt), an interesting statistic (go mobile customer base reaches 140,000 mark in four years), an embarrassment for the prison authorities (Cocaine discovered in Corradino Corrective Facility), and another laughable management fiasco by Maltasong (Malta Song for Europe 2005 selection delayed). At least the usual fuss about the Budget seems to have died down a little bit.

A New York Times editorial published today makes me think that I really did the right thing leaving New York earlier this year. Thinking this way explains a little bit of what I mean by the title I've given today's blog entry. Read the main text of the editorial and you'll probably see what I mean.

There is no historic preservation district or landmarks commission for hawks' nests. But if there were, the red-tailed hawk's nest at 927 Fifth Avenue, overlooking Central Park at 74th Street, would surely have qualified. Until Tuesday, the nest stood on a 12th-floor cornice with a sublime aerial view of the urban forest in our midst. Since 1993, 23 young hawks have been raised there, sired by a bird called Pale Male. Thousands and thousands of bird-watchers over the years have followed the lives of the hawks in that nest. But this is not an homage to bird-watching - it's an homage to birds.

On Tuesday, workers took down the nest and, apparently, the metal anti-pigeon spikes that had helped hold it in place. So far, no one from 927 Fifth Avenue has spoken up to defend the co-op board's decision to remove the nest. Perhaps residents were annoyed that the hawks didn't do a better job of cleaning up after themselves by using a pooper-scooper or putting their pigeon bones in the trash, the way a human would. Perhaps they simply wearied of the stirring sight of a red-tailed hawk coming down out of the sky to settle on its nest.

It's always tempting to think that a city like New York has utterly effaced the natural ground on which it was built. Most of the creatures that lived on Manhattan Island several centuries ago would stand no chance of doing so now - not in these new canyons of steel and glass. But the presence of a nesting pair of red-tailed hawks, sequestered on the edge of an apartment building, feels like a memory from a past this city has long since forgotten.

The hawks have gone out of their way to learn to live with us. The least the wealthy residents of 927 Fifth Avenue could have done was learn to live with the hawks.
Pale Male and family in New York

Blogger Ingrid said...

Hi, I'd like to post a link to your blog post on Pale Male, as I'm blogging about this story big time. Thanks,


6:07 PM, December 14, 2004

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