Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Windex vs The Environment

It's my mother's fault. I am not attempting to shirk responsibility or point the finger unjustly. I unabashedly declare that it is my mother's fault for two reasons that were beyond my control. The first reason is that at a very early age she taught me how to wash windows correctly and thoroughly; initiating me into the mysteries of all the ways and means of achieving a streak-free shine. I cannot reveal them here because I'd have to kill you--thus eliminating at least one precious gentle reader. The second reason is that my mother is an obsessive creature of habits and traditions that date back to the Garden of Eden when Eve installed the first thermal paned window giving her an ideal view down the garden path to her apple orchard. Apparently it is an unwritten Maine tradition to wash one's windows (at the very least) twice a year. Once in the Spring sometime around Easter as part of the annual Spring Cleaning Ritual--which lasts throughout summer. The second is in the Autumn sometime after Labor Day and before Thanksgiving. Today was that day. Unfortunately my mother doesn't subscribe to my theory that less than perfectly clean windows is actually a good thing. It cuts down on harmful ultra-violet radiation and serves as a natural sunscreen. She points out that since the sun's rays are now slanting away from us it's important to clean the windows to extract the most amount of light possible in order to continue cleaning everything else. So, with all appropriate utensils in hand I proceeded into the afternoon sunshine (43 degrees) and set to work. After I had completed all the outside surfaces I came inside to finish the job. Once completed I sat and marveled at my accomplishment and accepted my mother's praise humbly. To reward myself I picked up the novel I'm reading--the biography of Bess of Hardwicke--and settled into my comfy chair.

At one point--and I don't know why--eye strain or butt numbness--I looked up and out of the window. Something in the air outside over the clearing behind the house was getting larger and seemed to be approaching quickly. I was transfixed. After a second or so I began to think it was a single engine aircraft skimming over the tree tops. Then I saw the ever-so-slight twitch of the wing tips. From then on it was all in slow motion. This perfectly formed flying machine coming directly at me at 60 miles an hour. The intent golden beady eyes fixed on it's prey. The landing gear consisting of two sets of three inch talons. And the incredible thud resounding both inside and outside of the house. Scarlet, my Bastet look-alike black cat, had been sleeping unseen (at least by me) on the windowsill behind the buffet and in front of the window. She was now ascending straight up to become one with the ceiling. My mother exclaimed from another room and I jumped up to extricate Scarlet from the curtain rod she had attached herself to. I told mother what had happened and went outside to investigate. There on the ground beneath the window was the largest goshawk I'd ever seen. OK, it was the only goshawk I'd ever seen that close. And he was still alive. And he didn't look as though he was in any way amused or impressed with my window cleaning abilities. He'd been denied Scarlet for lunch and he was giving me the once over as a suitable menu substitute. It became apparent he had injured one of his wings and one of his legs. How it is he didn't break his neck is beyond me. I went back inside and called the wild animal rescue people. They're more accustomed to rescuing moose who've wandered into bogs or bear that have wandered into homes. They came within the hour because I told them it was a bald eagle. I lied to them and I'm sorry but I really didn't want this fabulous creature to fall victim to the bobcats or coyotes that regularly patrol the area of our house. The rescue people were very sympathetic to the goshawk and to my 'ignorance'. They patiently pointed out (in the dulcet tones one employs in speaking to a four-year-old) that the colouring was all wrong and that an eagle's wingspan is much wider than this birds four foot spread. Hey, when this thing is coming at you that fast and has lunch in his eyes and ginsu knives for feet it's a bloody Boeing 747 alright, buddy?

I will give my mother credit for selecting shatter-proof glass when she had the new windows installed three years ago. Otherwise I'd still be picking shards out of the carpet. Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to pay for Scarlet's PTSD therapy. I am so tempted to go outside and throw dirt at the windows and reaffirm my case for being less aggressive on this whole cleanliness issue in consideration of wildlife conservation. That will have to wait until after I've hung out the next load of laundry and finish raking leaves. Maine is gorgeous the year round but especially in the Autumn. The fun never stops. Between falling leaves and descending pterodactyls life is an endless adventure.


  1. Good lord. Adventures in Maine!

    Put a fake owl in the windows to scare away the other predatory birds at least until the windows get dingy again.

  2. Putting a black cat in the window sure as hell didn't do any good. I've heard of putting fake owls in the garden to ward off vermin. I think one in the window would send Scarlet over the edge and she's already walking the tightrope as it is.

  3. What a day! I can see poor Scarlet, and she thought birds were supposed to be lunch for HER!

  4. I've begun noticing little white hairs sprouting up here and there on her coat. Poor baby, I think this has caused her to go prematurely grey--like us.

  5. Poor Scarlet!!Apart from the shock of narrowly evading being lunch, it is a major readjustment for cats once they learn some birds are BIG and definitely inedible.
    This is a great post, I treasure it as another Member of the Close Encounters With Goshawks Club.Thanks for directing me to it.
    Poor Goshawk,hope it was repaired and released to live it's life out knowing that clean windows are a danger to everyone.