Hawks on a Ledge

A family of red-tailed hawks have taken roost on the front ledge of a building near us, opposite the Fresh Pond Shopping Center in Cambridge. The first flight of one of the fledglings created quite a stir the other day. And the day following, I happened to be passing through the parking lot of the office building when I found a crowd of people gathered around a parked car. There, on the roof of the car, was the young hawk—peering around, probably wondering who all these yahoos were that were getting in the way of his flight training.  I snapped a few shots with my cell camera, and a few minutes later, he took wing and got himself up onto a tall CVS sign in the same lot.

They’ve been drawing crowds of birdwatchers from all over the area. There’s a gallery of some pretty good pix on Boston.com. But—rather like my experience watching the space shuttle launch—the pictures don’t compare to standing fifteen feet from the (not so) little guy, watching him try to make sense of it all. I could identify.

Trouble in Dogland

Our boxer Hermione took one wrong step on Sunday—she ran into something sharp on the playing field, a piece of an old soccer goal. I was home making coffee when Allysen arrived carrying our fifty-pound dog, who was bleeding from a nasty gash above her left front paw. (Several neighbors, bless them, had pitched in successively to help carry Hermione from the field.)

A long visit to the Mass Vet Referral Hospital later, we learned that she was in not just for stitches but for surgery, because she had not only cut her leg but had hit two arteries in the process. (Fortunately, we’d bandaged her up tightly.) She came home with a nice purple wrap covering a splint that extends all the way to the end of her paw; the injury was near a joint, and that had to be immobilized. We, needless to say, also brought home an impressive vet bill. 

The old girl is going to be fine, but for the next two weeks she’s going to be stumping around the house like a peg-legged pirate on this splint. We’ve taken to calling her Thumper.

Here’s a picture of Hermione and Moonlight on a happier day.

Dog Star

I can’t believe I forgot to mention this earlier. I recently sold a short story—the first short piece I’ve written in years—to Diamonds in the Sky, an online anthology edited by Michael Brotherton and funded by NASA to promote astronomy education. It’s going to be available online realsoonnow, I understand. The anthology is intended as a free online resource for astronomy teachers and students, bringing together a group of science fiction stories each of which illustrates a particular astronomical concept. The hope is that the stories will be a fun way to learn science, and might even make some difficult concepts clearer than a straight expository approach. It’s to be kept “in print” indefinitely, so that teachers—and their students!—can always go back to it.

In a way, it’s a throwback to the Golden Days of Science Fiction, when men were Real Men, and the science in science fiction was Real Science. (Sometimes, anyway.) It should be interesting.

Oh—the title of my story is “Dog Star.” It’s about a boy and his dog and asteroids and dark energy.

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