Two Books, and an Inspiring Idea about Art and Life

At last week’s Moscow First Thursday, where local businesses feature visual and performing artists, we hosted the WSU Raptor Club. This group, dedicated to rescue and rehabilitation of injured hawks, owls, falcons, may seem at first unlikely artists, but I’m reconsidering. The club set up their chairs and drop cloths (thank you!), donned heavy, leather gloves and settled down to introduce eager customers to these frankly majestic animals.

Meanwhile, many of us at BookPeople are still talking about Helen MacDonald’s H is for Hawk, a book about falcons (types of raptors)—and much more. MacDonald’s memoir is intellectually rich with falconry’s history, and emotionally charged with the author’s personal story: training a goshawk as a means to tame profound grief over her father’s death. There’s much to glean from MacDonald’s beautiful writing (she’s a poet by training), one is falconry’s slow, patient process (short cuts and quick fixes have no place here), as if the bird’s wildness must be matched by the falconer’s calm. I could see a glimpse of that last week in the way the WSU handlers interacted with their birds. Calmly, with intention.

Which brings to mind my current read (and back to art): Why We Make Things and Why it Matters, by Peter Korn. A master woodworker, Korn writes about his long ago decision to eschew a career in social work, medicine, or law for one of building furniture. But the book is also about building a better life and world through intention, patience, and an eye to quality, ideals we can bring to all work. Yesterday at the store, for me, it was in organizing books; today at home, it’s painting window trim. For the women in the Raptor club, it's falconry. We can be artists in everything we do.

Jamaica Ritcher