“There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you realise that is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realise, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps, [...]”
“We carry the lives we've imagined as we carry the lives we have, and sometimes a reckoning comes of all the lives we have lost.”
“Here’s a word. Bereavement. Or, Bereaved. Bereft. It’s from the Old English bereafian, meaning ‘to deprive of, take away, seize, rob’. Robbed. Seized. It happens to everyone. But you feel it alone. Shocking loss isn’t to be shared, no matter how hard you try.”
“In England Have My Bones White wrote one of the saddest sentences I have ever read: ‘Falling in love is a desolating experience, but not when it is with a countryside.’ He could not imagine a human love returned. He had to displace his desires onto the landscape, that great, blank green field that cannot love you back, but cannot hurt you either.”
“When you are learning how to do something, you do not have to worry about whether or not you are good at it. But when you have done something, have learned how to do it, you are not safe any more. Being an expert opens you up to judgement.”
“The hawk was everything I wanted to be: solitary, self-possessed, free from grief, and numb to the hurts of human life.”
“I think of what wild animals are in our imaginations. And how they are disappearing — not just from the wild, but from people’s everyday lives, replaced by images of themselves in print and on screen. The rarer they get, the fewer meanings animals can have. Eventually rarity is all they are made of. The condor is an icon of extinction. There’s little else to it now but being the last of its kind. And in this lies the diminution of the world. How can you love something, how can you fight to protect it, if all it means is loss?”
“Old England is an imaginary place, a landscape built from words, woodcuts, films, paintings, picturesque engravings. It is a place imagined by people, and people do not live very long or look very hard. We are very bad at scale. The things that live in the soil are too small to care about; climate change too large to imagine. We are bad at time too. We cannot remember what lived here before we did; we cannot love what is not. Nor can we imagine what will be different when we are dead. We live out our three score and ten, and tie our knots and lines only to ourselves. We take solace in pictures, and we wipe the hills of history.”
“When you are broken, you run. But you don't always run away. Sometimes, helplessly, you run towards.”
“You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realise, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps, though you can put your hand out to where things were and feel that tense, shining dullness of the space where the memories are.”
“It took me a long time to realise how many of our classic books on animals were by gay writers who wrote of their relationships with animals in lieu of human loves of which they could not speak.”
“Nature in her green, tranquil woods heals and soothes all affliction,’ wrote John Muir. ‘Earth hath no sorrows that earth cannot heal.’ Now I knew this for what it was: a beguiling but dangerous lie. I was furious with myself and my own conscious certainty that t his was the cure I needed. Hands are for other humans to hold. They should not be reserved exclusively as perches for hawks. And the wild is not a panacea for the human soul; too much in the air can corrode it to nothing.”
“Like a good academic, I thought books were for answers.”
“I wish that we would not fight for landscapes that remind us of who we think we are. I wish we would fight, instead, for landscapes buzzing and glowing with life in all its variousness.”
“It happens to everyone. But you feel it alone. Shocking loss isn’t to be shared, no matter how hard you try.”
“The archaeology of grief is not ordered. It is more like earth under a spade, turning up things you had forgotten. Surprising things come to light: not simply memories, but states of mind, emotions, older ways of seeing the world.”
“Hands are for other human hands to hold.”
“The hawk had filled the house with wildness as a bowl of lilies fills a house with scent.”
“Of all the lessons I’ve learned in my months with Mabel this is the greatest of all: that there is a world of things out there – rocks and trees and stones and grass and all the things that crawl and run and fly. They are all things in themselves, but we make them sensible to us by giving them meanings that shore up our own views of the world. In my time with Mabel I’ve learned how you feel more human once you have known, even in your imagination, what it is like to be not. And I have learned, too, the danger that comes in mistaking the wildness we give a thing for the wildness that animates it. Goshawks are things of death and blood and gore, but they are not excuses for atrocities. Their inhumanity is to be treasured because what they do has nothing to do with us at all.”
“Promises that are broken, again and again, through fear, through loss of nerve, through any number of things that hide that deep desire, at heart, to obliterate one's broken self.”
“Hunting makes you animal, but the death of an animal makes you human.”
“the world is full of signs and wonders that come, and go, and if you are lucky you might see them. Once, twice. Perhaps never again.”
“Some things happen only once, twice in a lifetime. The world is full of signs and wonders that come, and go, and if you are lucky you might be alive to see them.”
“The kind of madness I had was different. It was quiet, and very, very dangerous. It was a madness designed to keep me sane.”
“What happens to the mind after bereavement makes no sense until later. Even as I watched I’d half-realised Prideaux was a figure I’d picked out for a father. But what I should have realised, too, on those northern roads, is that what the mind does after losing one’s father isn’t just to pick new fathers from the world, but pick new selves to love them with.”
“We are very bad at scale. The things that live in the soil are too small to care about; climate change too large to imagine. We are bad at time, too. We cannot remember what lived here before we did; we cannot love what is not. Nor can we imagine what will be different when we are dead. We live out our three score and ten, and tie our knots and lines only to ourselves. We take solace in pictures, and we wipe the hills of history.”
“Watching, not doing. Seeking safety in not being seen. It's a habit you can fall into, willing yourself into invisibility. And it doesn't serve you well in life. Believe me it doesn't. Not with people and loves and hearts and homes and work. But for the first few days with a new hawk, making yourself disappear is the greatest skill in the world.”
“It’s not an untouched wilderness like a mountaintop, but a ramshackle wildness in which people and the land have conspired to strangeness.”
“Being a novice is safe. When you are learning how to do something, you do not have to worry about whether or not you are good at it. But when you have done something, have learned how to do it, you are not safe any more. Being an expert opens you up to judgement.”
“I look down and see my hands uncapping the pen, turning the notepad right-side up on my knees. My mouth is dry, my stomach is in knots, my life is over, my heart is broken.
I start to write.”
“I try not to look at him, but it’s impossible not to. His presence is totally commanding. I’ve heard that expression before, but until being around him I never really appreciated what it meant. He’s like the boss of my eyeballs or something.
Do not look at his package, Candice. Do not look at his package. My eyes move of their own accord. Oh dammit , you looked at his package! And … oh my … Oh my, my, my … There’s a giant bulge! Hooray for giant bulges and the jeans that let me see them!”
“When she finally crashed back to earth, Luke's dark eyes were focused on her face. "Did you really just come?" he demanded, his voice a cross between a growl and a groan.
She let out a ragged breath. "Uh-huh."
"Fuck, that's hot." He ground his pelvis into her. "Do it again.”
“You have a rare fire within you. The power to change things. The courage to act in the service of something greater than yourself.”
“Sometimes the picture someone else paints of us is a more accurate portrayal than a reflection. What we see in the mirror is always reversed. A portrait not only allows us to see our own faces, but how it looks to others.”
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