H is for Hawk.pdf
Helen Macdonald is a writer, poet, illustrator, historian and affiliate at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. Her books include Falcon (2006) and Shaler's Fish (2001).
'In real life, goshawks resemble sparrow hawks the way leopards resemble housecats. Bigger, yes. But bulkier, bloodier, deadlier, scarier, and much, much harder to see. Birds of deep woodland, not gardens, they're the birdwatchers' dark grail.' From the age of twelve, when she first saw a trained goshawk, Helen Macdonald had determined to become a falconer. She learned the arcane terminology and read all the classic books, especially T.H. White's tortured masterpiece The Goshawk, that describes White's struggle to train a hawk as a spiritual contest. When her father dies and she is knocked sideways by grief, she turns to White's book again and becomes obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She buys Mabel for GBP800 on a Scottish quayside and takes her home to Cambridge. Then she fills the freezer with hawk food and unplugs the phone, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this widest of animals. 'To train a hawk you must watch it like a hawk, and so gain the ability to predict what it will do next. Eventually you don't see the hawk's body language at all. You seem to feel what it feels. The hawk's apprehension becomes your own. As the days passed and I put myself in the hawk's wild mind to tame her, my humanity was burning away.'