Driving on Alert

Driving the interstates in winter can be boring when you are on level land with typical Midwest harvested cornfields stretching out for miles beyond you. I’ve discovered a way to keep my mind on the road area when the boredom begins to set in.

I watch for red-tailed hawks perched on fence posts or tree branches that sometimes line the highway. In listening to a speech about the red-tailed hawk, I learned that they are often found on a low-hanging branch or fence post in the winter time looking for prey, such as mice and other rodents, on the ground below them. They are so still as they watch that you will typically not see them unless you look closely for their statue-like appearance on a post or branch.

At first I was skeptical because I had never seen one near a highway in all my years of driving. Once I began looking, I found that there are such birds on fence posts! I was amazed. In fact, I travel I-74 from Cincinnati to Indianapolis often and I will average seeing two red-tailed hawks for each 100 miles of driving in January and February. Even this fall, I was excited to see a red-tailed hawk on a fence post around the Greensburg exit.

Focusing on watching for this bird keeps me alert and my eyes focused on the highway. Knowing what to pay attention to can enhance our quality of life. As Julia Cameron said, “The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.”

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at steveboyd111@gmail.com.

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