I felt compelled to share with you all a story of my trip in Boston a couple of weeks ago.
“When Hawks Attack” by Matt Miller
There I was, standing across the street from Boston University. My best friend Peter down the street for an interview, leaving me with time to kill and a new place to explore. I ventured over to the campus, surrounded by old stone and brick buildings, several tours walking in every direction, each led by some BU student with a headset and microphone, quite the contrast against these old stone arches and history in the walls.
I step through the arches looking out into a beautiful courtyard, just beyond there lie the Charles River Basin and MIT on the opposite shore. As I take in the scenery, the faint sound of city noise behind me and the trailing voices of tour leaders, I am amazed to see a huge raptor of some kind swoop down into the courtyard and pick up a squirrel! I watch as it soars up to the top of an old brick building, settling down to feast on its fresh meal. Fully submitting to my desire to get a closer look I feverishly approach the building and climb the fire escape, all the way to the fourth story to see the feeding raptor. My initial thought was a falcon, with the cityscape, college campus, and the brief glimpse I had.
No sooner did I put two feet on the top of the fire escape and turn to look, did the raptor react and take flight across the courtyard, landing on another old building. A bit flushed and bedazzled by this display I stand tall to watch the raptor from across the way, myself still glowing from this unexpected encounter. As I start to wind down and head back for the narrow stair case a woman breaks off the back of a tour and runs towards the building waving her arms and yelling some inaudible somethings at me. To my terror I soon find she is trying to warn me of something…the raptor’s mate dive-bombs me and lands on the side of my head clawing, screeching, and furiously flapping its wings. I hit the deck and try helplessly to defend myself. When the initial attack had ceased and the raptor retreated to the skies, I lay on my side, the world appearing to be on its side too, as adrenaline and alarm rush over me. No sooner did I collect myself did the raptor come swooping back towards me, this time straight for me and very clearly locked on me. I scurried into the corner of the building, hiding partially behind an external air conditioning unit and as it got closer it finally made a sharp move upwards into the sky.
Two more times I went through this, never again coming in contact, but both the raptor and myself kept a close eye on one another. Planning my escape I waited it out until the hawk (which I had by then identified) determined there was no more threat to his feeding mate and rejoined her on the opposite building. I move quickly, moving down five flights of stairs in mere seconds until I safely have two feet on the ground. I walk across the courtyard to see where the hawks were perched, still a bit dazed, and try to again glimpse these magnificent city dwelling hawks. I notice a woman talking to a man and pointing towards the building I just descended, her body language told me she had seen the hawks. I approach her and casually asked if she had seen the hawks and she said “why yes! and I saw some poor man get attacked by one of them!” and firmly respond that it was in fact me that had been attacked and told her I was A-OK.
It was that moment, however, when I finally reach up and feel my head where I had been clawed. Pulling my hand away I see my fingers covered in blood and realize the talons had gouged my scalp. I assure her I was fine and began to navigate my way back the way I came, through the stone arches and out to the busy plaza with tours, bikers, and city traffic. Had this really just happened?! I made my way back to the espresso shop where I had started and cleaned myself up a bit in the bathroom, just a scrape I thought. I sat down and peered out of the window across to the BU campus, watching as the hawks soared above. Sure enough, both hawks landed on much higher building adjacent to the now historic building I had ascended, on what appeared to be a large nest.
For my first time traveling to the East Coast, I would say it was pretty memorable.