Today I was walking across the south side of the Connecticut Ave. bridge (toward Washington, D.C.'s Woodley Park) when I stopped to look down at the Klingle Valley and take a listen. Between the intermittent noise of traffic and people shuffling by, I heard the faint but recognizable sound of a raptor in the distance. I liken my new (and self-proclaimed) superpower to the ability a mother has to hear the cry of her baby awakening in another room. I'm not a mother (aside from a puppy and a cat-mom), but by golly, I know a "keeeee-rah" when I hear it!
Sure enough, I was on the other side of the bridge when I saw a raptor land from the sky where the morning doves like to hang out (beside the Zenith apartments). It would take me some time to get to the crosswalk and cross the street so I decided to just pause and watch from where I was.
The doves scattered immediately as the hawk arrived.
Juvenile Red-shouldered hawk flying above Conn. Ave. bridge
As I was taking it all in I noticed a woman crossing the bridge toward me who looked familiar. When our eyes met she said "hello" and I asked, "Are you, Dorothy?"
I couldn't see a smile behind her mask but her tone led me to believe she was smiling.
"Yes I am!" she said.
"I can't believe it's you! I've been hoping to find you. You were there the day we discovered the third hatchling and named her after you!"
The infamous day I was speaking of was in April 2020, amidst the early woes of the pandemic when a raptor family was our only respite from the incessant gloomy news on the networks. Initially, only two hatchlings were evident for a couple of days... but then, to our glee, a third fluffy head reared itself from under momma Libby's belly. My friends and I were so excited by this discovery that a woman passing by on foot had to stop and ask us what we were looking at with such joyful enthusiasm.
"It's a new hatchling!" we replied in unison, "Mama Libby hatched not TWO but THREE babies!"
"What's a hatchling?" The woman said, perplexed but curious, to which we informed her about the Red-shouldered hawk family and pointed to the nest at eye-level from the bridge.
"What's your name?" I asked the woman, who seemed enchanted by the nest and all of its occupants.
"My name is Dorothy."
"Well Dorothy, we are naming the new hatchling after you!"
Ms. Dorothy was so pleased that she smiled and said she couldn't wait to share the news with her sister in Kansas, and off she went. I didn't have a chance to ask her if she really did have a sister in Kansas, or maybe a dog named Toto, too.
That was 10 months ago, and I've been wondering if I would ever see Dorothy again to tell her about her namesake growing up and fledging the nest. But today, on the south side of the Connecticut Ave. bridge, my questions were answered.
"I bought your book," she said, "and I told my sister to get it, too."
"So you really do have a sister in Kansas?" I asked. "Yes I do," she said with a laugh.
I asked her how she felt about Dorothy Raptor sharing her name, and she said she was flattered.
"I show people the cover of your book and say, that's me!" She said.
I had to ask, "Do you and Dorothy Raptor have anything in common?"
"Well, I'm outgoing," said the REAL Dorothy. "I think she's outgoing, too."
Dorothy has lived in Cleveland Park for 17-years and loves the people as well as the local wildlife.
It's not unusual to see yourself in nature and its inhabitants, dear readers. After all, it is the core of our existence.
(Big thanks to REAL Dorothy for allowing me to take her picture and share our reunion for this blog.)