Do not go quietly into the night

Since leaving south Florida, I have not seen near as many beautiful sunsets in the northern part of the state (mostly due to old-growth trees and a hilly landscape, which is why I wanted to move in the first place so it is a fair trade). Also, practicing falconry on a nearly daily basis those days put me in a good position to catch these awe-inspiring works of God. This photo is one such case, and one of the nicest sunset photos I have had the honor of capturing. So remarkable I can remember the exact details of the outing*, which says something as my memory bank is full and has been dumping its cache of old lives not so easily remembered these days.

*It was early Autumn 2006 in south Florida, and though seasons never really switch there was just a hint of lower humidity and drop in temperature to let you know things were changing ever so slightly. The Cooper’s hawk that I started training as a brancher (just our of the nest, but not adept at flying yet) was into its first hunting season and doing very well, catching game in magnificent fights that showed the aerial superiority of Accipiters through lightning speed and a grace rarely seen outside of a David Attenborough series. Of course, being granted access to this type of beauty comes at a cost and those who fly or have flied accipiters know exactly what I am talking about. For those who have not or are not into falconry, flying a Cooper’s hawk (or nearly any Accipiter) is akin to dating a supermodel. It takes a daily work and dedication to keep the relationship pleasant. Miss a day and neglect your charge for some time with friends, or even just a day off, will certainly pay its dividends in aggression, bad feelings, and resentment which takes weeks to move past. But I digress, this is about the sunset and not the bird. I was with a good friend (also a falconer) and my brother, just closing out a successful day of hunting and heading to our ritualized feast of grilled chicken, black beans, yellow rice, and sweet plantains at Pollo Tropical when this sunset grabbed our attention. It was stunning (my photo does not do it justice) and we all just stood there in awe. My analytical brain broke the spell long enough to grab the camera and capture this photo. We stood there until after the sun set and the mosquitos made us their feast before moving on. I think the itch to get back into falconry is getting stronger with these last few posts…

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