Matt’s Whereabouts

Hello All! I’m still here, reading and enjoying the continuing chatter at Querencia.

“Been busy” is inadequate to explain my lack of correspondence; so to overstate it only a little, I sometimes feel I’ve been travelling for two years down a long tunnel, away from myself: Little writing for pleasure; falconry pared to bare-essentials; contemplative reading replaced with scanning and abstracting—a cut-and-paste mental life facilitated by smart phones. 

But it’s more likely just the commonplace post-40 existence, with our one-mortgage/two-income family, two pre-teen children and four aging parents.  It’s a lot to do and talk about at the same time.
Here’s a small blog contribution from my morning hunt.  This is Rina the whippet and Ernie the Harris’s hawk, hunting in the tall weeds near home.

Notice the big crop.  The team might have spoiled our Tuesday hunt with their Sunday morning gluttony…

UPDATE: My friend Tyler called just after dark for help pulling a deer (this adult buck with stunted rack, “still good for meat”) from the woods behind our neighborhood.  It’s bow season, and this is Tyler’s first kill for the year.  A small buck, says Tyler, but big enough to feed three families.

Cat and Matt in the Big Easy

Another check-mark on my Blogger Meet-up Bucket List!  Cheers from New Orleans!

An unexpected and very welcome note from fellow blogger Cat Urbigkit, who was on her way to Louisiana:

“I’m about to head to New Orleans for a long weekend (attending the American Library Association convention) – I can’t believe how hot it is there. . . .I can handle cold temps (add more layers), but as one brilliant teenager said about heat, ‘there’s only so naked you can get.'”

Well put! And true… We’ve been off the historical charts here, with real temps recently over 100 degrees and for days at a time.  Add that to our 85% humidity, and the heat indexes have been astounding.

At least Baton Rouge has a breeze.  Cramped old New Orleans in this kind of heat?  Forgetaboutit.

But I couldn’t miss a chance to meet Cat in person. I’ve greatly enjoyed her posts and photos here at Querencia, and she has been wonderfully generous in sending her books for my kids.  Reading of her visit to Mongolia and her adventures with falconers on her own home range, she’s almost a hawking buddy at this point.

Parking in the French Quarter, Step One: Find an open space, but be suspicious of open spaces.

Step Two:  Take photo of car beneath ambiguous “no parking” sign, since no one else seems to have risked the tow, and I might need to have evidence of the car tag and date.

Step Three: Email photo to myself in case over-zealous parking officer confiscates my phone, or it gets stolen.

Step Four: Then and only then, feed meter.

Cat and I met near the Cafe Du Monde, the Quarter’s famous old dive where at least 80 tourists stood in line for bengniets and cafe au lait—in the heat.  We passed.

We walked instead through the covered French Market and found a shady bench beneath the live oaks in a park off Frenchmen Street.  A Cooper’s hawk and a family of angry crows hopped around the branches above us as we talked of bad sheep and good lambs.

At lunchtime we left to eat at one of my favorite local spots, the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, home of the world’s only pie topped with shrimp and andoullie sausage etouffee.  There we talked at satisfying length about Steve (all good things), eagle falconry, our kids, writing, ranching, reading and local beers.  It was a pleasure.

Thank you, Cat, and come again!


Found items from hawking trips this year, both apropos of their settings: the first, a mesquite limb from a desert pasture north of Amarillo TX and the second a cypress knee from a bayou in the heart of Cajun Louisiana. Can you guess what spirits they possess?

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Soup in just four months

To illustrate how ignorance can sneak up on you: despite several years of gardening (and 40 years of eating), I didn’t actually know where broccoli came from until this season.

In fact, it was more recent than that, since the broccoli I planted four months ago sprouted nothing even a little like broccoli (as I knew it) until about Thanksgiving.

But now I know. And once so enlightened I knew just what to do with my surprising new crop: broccoli cheese soup, just four months in the making.

A little deer sausage sprinkled in went very well.

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Location:Belle Grove Dr,Baton Rouge,United States

More Hawking Photos

First a short series of photos taken by Brian Millsap during our last-week hunting trip to Amarillo, Texas.

Eric Edwards’s merlin
Jimmy Walker and goshawk

Turkey at the night roost
Taking a break from the wind at 25 degrees

Another batch of great photos (more by Eric Edwards) are available in the linked Picasa albumn below.

Amarillo 2010

I spent last week hawking in Amarillo, Texas.  More pics to come as they filter in from friends, but here are a few from a jackrabbit hunt toward the end of the week.  This one flushed close in high cover, which is a good situation for a male Harris hawk like mine (jacks outweigh him about 7-1).  Ernie was on it before he knew quite how big it was.  I fell into the mix to lend a hand as fast as possible.  And shortly after, Chris Lynn’s female Harris came in to assist as well.  In one picture below we attempt to sort out the knot. (photos by Eric Edwards)

More Thoughts on Prof. McMahan’s Essay

Reading yesterday’s NYT (online) essay, The Meat Eaters, by Rutgers University professor of philosophy Jeff McMahan (forwarded by reader Daniela and shared below by Steve), I’m almost more puzzled by my own need to comment on the piece than I am amazed by it.

It’s tempting to lump this man’s essay in with the tiresome mass of animal rights propaganda, but I think it’s only superficially similar. This goes deeper, is arguably crazier, and may belong to another tradition entirely.

Professor McMahan’s work is principally atheist, by my reading, secondarily misanthropic, and only for the sake of example concerned with the welfare of animals.

His ignorance of animals and “nature” is obvious (Does he know some deer eat baby birds? Does he know ducks rape and kill each other?) and his ignorance of the human animal (his own animal self!) can be inferred. But I think the misanthropic bent of his argument hints that maybe he knows just enough about himself to be scared and disgusted by what he sees.

This is a very old theme, indeed. Man’s fear and loathing of himself long predates any “animal rights” movement (though it certainly seems to inform it.)

I can’t help but, as a parent of two children, recognize in this line of thinking a child’s deep-seated (and profoundly self-centered) sense of injustice.

Faced with the world’s certain measures of pain, bewilderment and abandonment, reasonable children seek comfort—and if denied that comfort, predictably lash out in self defense. They give hell to their parents, to their siblings, teachers, and tragically often to themselves.

To such a child, it is better to be alone than in the company of fellow sufferers. It is better, some will conclude, even to be dead.

For all the professor’s elaborate argument and educated language, he writes essentially from the perspective of a hurt child, ironically selfish in his lashing out against the “cruelty” of others.

This argument has been taken farther than the professor has yet come. Every religion and entire civilizations (spawning literatures and philosophies he must certainly know) have been created in the attempt to see past the problem of pain.

Although we still argue (obviously) and wonder about this problem, there is at least a shared understanding that the problem is sewn into the system and somehow essential to it.

Whether you chose to see this as life in a Fallen world or simply acknowledge, in the secular sense, that we’re all fucked, every adult must advance from that basic understanding to whatever conclusions can be drawn.

Only a child will chose to sit in a corner, hungry and hurt, while everyone sits at the table and eats what’s given.

Update: Chas’s thoughts here.