The Falcon and the Woman

I needed to kill some time before an auto repair appointment. Clackamette Park in Oregon City beckoned. There was always interesting people and bird watching there, and I occasionally found choice cuts of beaverwood to add to my Portland-area collection, surely the only one of its kind outside of the homeless people living along various watercourses who collected beaverwood for the construction of their shanties. I guess that technically doesn’t qualify as a collection. To think that homeless Oregonians would utilize beaverwood in the building of their shelter in 2021 defies reality, but I have seen it with my own eyes.

I parked the car and walked a path toward the Willamette River. A few men fished. A few men sat in chairs and drank coffee. Hundreds of geese and ducks and gulls did their avian thing.

A woman stood near a picnic table and smoked. She had several plastic bags full of something around here. She had the unmistakable look of a homeless person. I passed her and stopped at the river’s edge.

I looked upriver. No boats. A bird came into view. It flew like a raptor. It landed atop a dead tree 30 yards away. It turned its profile to me—a peregrine falcon.

It’s a great moment whenever you see a peregrine falcon and I moved toward it. I watched the falcon for a good five minutes as it surveyed the river. Nothing like killing time watching a falcon perched in a snag waiting to launch and rip some prey out of the sky.

Something crackled in the trees behind me. I turned around and began walking toward the sound. It was the homeless woman standing and apparently searching in a stack of driftwood doubtless thrown up during high flows.

She saw me and smiled.

“I’m looking for the right stick for a cane for my husband,” she said.

“Good luck,” I said.

I turned back toward the falcon. Gone.

This disappointed me. I wanted to tell the woman about the falcon and let her marvel as I had.