My Daughter the Falconer by Russ Paladin


I’m not convinced this had anything to do with it but we were driving

in the woods one still spring day

when I spotted a


and pointed it out to her. Shara-my-only

was maybe five.

Lookathim, I whispered, awestruck as I was

and am by such wildlife. Hoping my sense

of that would successfully communicate

itself to my child. So I pulled to the side of the road,


and rolled down her window so she might hear



How I wanted to give her

a hug right then, a loving squeeze at that

crucial moment, but figured– correctly, I still believe–

it would distract her from what I’d

set her attention toward

in the first place. So I purposely


Her back was to me, she never knew. I’ll never forget.

The whole thing lasted all of three minutes, when he

vanishedagainstgreyclouds. Birds



I told her on the ride back. They’re like them in a lot of ways.

Some dinosaurs evenhadfeathers.



she’s 26, and when I’m at these

RenaissanceFairsLibrariesNatureCenters for these

programspresentations she writes

assemblescreatesdemonstrates herself, dressed in

(she calls it ‘frontier Tolkien’)



she couldn’t look less like her mother if she tried yet there’s my wife in


(her apprentice dressed the same, cute girl

a few years younger than Shara, she even resembles her

a little; not entirely sure what’s going on there but

Shara-my-only smiling is what matters),

and I hear the audience

whisperinfascination at a Peregrine


almostakilometerup or gasp as an

owlospreyRussianeagle they’ve all just noticed


above their heads on its return

to her left-hand leather gauntlet, I think

could have been medicine might have been law

might have been music

might have been anything but it landed on

of all things

falconry. And I remember

how with such openness she


that day I stopped the car. How she was instantly

fine to just perch, turned in her seat,

hands on the lowered glass, chin on her knuckles,

gazingoutandup in almostreverentsilence to

observe a barely moving winged dot

patrol its patchofearth, its columnofsky,


beneath it with its talons.



I can barely keep


It’s like holding back a shout. She’s beautiful, she’s happy– Look what you had a hand

in creating, I tell myself. I want to

standonmychair and

pointintheair and proclaim: I helped!

While these prehistoric slaughterers of hers–

understand these birds are huge, all

sinewbeakandtaloninstinct as they are they could

removesomeone’seyeballs should she

train them to do so– (an eagle’s eyes

are as large as a human’s, she and her helper

readily inform me) consider me with the

sameprogrammeddisdain they seem to

save for most humans notmydaughter. To her, they’re awaiting


To me (to us) they seem to say:





Russ Paladin roams the Upper Mississippi River Valley, where he works with kids and canines, plays hard rock music, watches old monster movies, and seeks out beauty in all its many guises. He will read anything that holds his interest.