Ladies, let me introduce you to Dave, a character straight out of a bosom-heaving romance novel. I don’t know why I didn’t get a shot that better shows his tall, worn leather boots and the canvas bag containing pieces of meat and small dead animals slung around his shoulder, his overall teeming masculinity….
I might have been too busy writing the story line.
He’s tall, rugged, Irish and hunts foxes with hounds. He’s got a smile that’s probably broken hearts from Dromoland to Dublin. He also runs the school of falconry at Dromoland Castle. (Yeah. See what I mean? This guy stepped straight out of a romance novel.)
The rain had stopped by the time Dave took us on an hour-long walk in the woods with Bruce, the hawk you see pictured.
I’m not sure which was most interesting: Bruce, the hawk, landing on my gloved hand or the plot I had going featuring Dave. You know, the 30-year old niece coming to her family castle in Ireland to escape a bad romance in the states. She meets the handsome gamekeeper. Strolls in the Irish mist. Big, roaring fires. You get the picture. That was the track playing in one half of my brain while the other was engaged in the falconry experience.
The hawk walk was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. Having a hawk land on your hand and sit there staring at you with tilted head was thrilling. Bruce was pretty tame, for a hawk and he landed on us multiple times during the walk. As long as we had a piece or raw rabbit meat in our fingers.
“But if you were dead, he’s eat you and think nothing of it,” Dave said, as we walked.
“Surely, though, it would be different with you, who raised him from the start?” I asked.
“Oh, he’d eat me.”
Ah. Ahem. Ok then.
As we walked the castle grounds, Dave told us all about hawks, predators, falconry, etc. I’ve forgotten it all. But I can describe everything he was wearing.
Back at the aviary, we met an even bigger predator: Mayhem, the owl, who scowled malevolently at us with her piercing orange eyes.
“Mayhem in name and deed,” Dave laughed. I must admit: she intimidated me. Mayhem’s not so tame, so she didn’t come out to play.
This baby—faced owl had the softest feathers.
And we met this gorgeous peregrine falcon.
Rugged birdkeeper and huntsman. Castle in the Irish countryside. Tramping through woods.
There’s a story here, and if I were a fiction writer, I’d write it. Then again, it’s already been written thousands of times.
Romance in the Irish countryside. You’ve got to love it.