Autumn swoops into Tennessee

I’ve been traveling a lot lately and haven’t run the dogs at the lake for several weeks. Perhaps the wait made this morning one of our best jaunts to Melton Hill in a while.

After several foggy mornings this week, today broke clear and brisk. It was 48 degrees and a full moon cast an incredible pre-sunrise glow on our walk.

As they always do, Ozzy and Gilligan tore off into a field atop the hill, disappearing over a rise to chase rabbits or whatever else caught their fancy. The eastern sky was easing toward dawn, but the sun wasn’t up yet. And as I always do, I stood whistling the dogs back to me, faithful Xena panting at my side.

I heard the jangling of Gilligan’s tags before I saw the two wayward hounds come over the rise, dew popping off their churning paws like glistening drops of mercury bouncing out of a broken thermometer.

But they weren’t alone.

In the sky only a few yards above them, slicing through autumn moonlight, was a small hawk. At first I thought it was an angry crow, rousted by the two hounds. But as it (and they) came closer, I realized it was a hawk, sizing them up as possible breakfast. It followed them all the way in, soaring up to perch in a nearby tree when it realized they were too big to haul off. It apparently didn’t see me standing there until after it had alighted, and upon noticing me, it soared off into the morning.


It reminded me of another hawk-dog encounter a few decades ago, when a beautiful, massive red-tail swooped at my little cocker spaniel pup while we were frolicking in the piney Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. That hawk probably could have made off with the dog, but it saw me as it swooped and veered away.

Can’t wait till tomorrow morning …

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