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Misc Musings

November 2, 2002

It was a clear blue autumn day. Carolina was still in the final throes of losing to Maryland 59 to 7. We were a little dispirited, but it was hard to be too down on such a crisp clear day. We left the game early and were wandering the brick walkways enjoying the campus views and basking in nostalgia. Just behind Hamilton hall we saw an intoxicated man gesturing wildly at a bush and occasionally throwing a heavy magnolia pod at something. When we drew closer we saw the object of his irritation. A large red-tailed hawk, almost two feet high, stood with talons clenched around a lifeless squirrel. Another squirrel sat in the Magnolia tree squawking in alarm or bereavement, it was hard to tell which. I gently urged the drunk man to stop his assault on the bird after the last one struck the hawk directly in the chest and knocked it back a few feet. The bird returned immediately to the squirrel and looked at all of us with disdain, like we had no idea what we were interfering in. The drunk man looked at me with red-rimmed eyes and wandered away mumbling. Vanessa and I just stood there, eyes locked with the bird, wondering what it would do next. Vanessa was growing more upset and started moving toward the hawk. I took a step forward to stop her and the bird lifted into the air with a powerful whoosh of wings. The large squirrel seemed weightless in its strong grasp as it lifted straight up and away from us over another group of face painted Carolina fans who ducked and exclaimed like they were under attack. The remaining squirrel sat quivering and squawking on a low limb for a few minutes more, then scrambled up the tree and out of sight.