I’ve always been an early riser. Not a 6AM early riser, or even a 5:30AM early riser — I’m a 4AM kind of girl. Maybe I’m a masochist, but really I just have a love affair with early mornings; each is reminiscent of my favorite Robert Frost poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay. I’m in love with the crispness of the air, the faint rustle of leaves as they eagerly await their brief chance to be golden with the rise of the sun. I feel peace on the empty roads and abandoned beaches, as the vestiges of natural landscape glimmer with whispering critters, most of which I long to cuddle and have as pets. I’m in love with early mornings because they’re not insistent; they don’t demand that I accomplish tasks, solve problems or make plans. Early mornings don’t expect me to look presentable, speak logically or even act accordingly. Early mornings allow me to just be. I’m in love with early mornings because they bring me as close as I’ll ever be to experiencing the world before life was so…busy, so crowded, so hurried and so complicated.

Early mornings offer me the opportunity to witness what I would otherwise overlook in the post-morning bustle. Like this morning; I saw a flickering street light — not the usual flicker of a bulb making its final stand before eternally burning out. This was a flickering that appeared as a deliberate, even strategic, dimming and brightening. As I drove by, I glanced in my rearview mirror, only to see it resume its ordinary glow alongside its streetlight companions. To anybody else this might have  been something explained away by the nuances of modern electricity. To me, however, it was a wink, a wave…a nod from beyond.

I’ll be the first to tell you I’m a skeptic when it comes to just about everything. I have a hard time believing in anything I can’t see, anything that hasn’t met my burden of proof, and anything that isn’t justifiably explained in a textbook from a highly verifiable source. With that being said…I see Hawks. Red-tailed Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, seahawks, Red-shouldered Hawks. Hawks. Everywhere. Hawks on lampposts, Hawks adorning trees, Hawks circling overhead, and Hawks seeming to barrel  directly at me. This is a daily occurrence. The skeptic in me sometimes wonders if I just have a keen eye for spotting them, habituated by years of my dad’s conditioning. Other times, the Hawks are undeniably there for me. A Hawk will screech and swoop ceaselessly until I acknowledge it, speak to it — then it will appear to vanish. And just like the flickering streetlight, I know it’s my dad. I just know it.
Admittedly, instead of being comforted by these visits, I mostly feel frustrated and anxious; “I SEE YOU! I HEAR YOU! WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL ME?!”
Recently, after again being accosted by a Hawk, I told my frustrations to my friend, Elyse. Without hesitation she said “maybe your dad is just trying to let you know he’s with you.”
Aha. How could something so simple (and seemingly, so obvious) have escaped me?
I had been so fearful and worried that he’s been here to warn me, it had never crossed my anxiety-ridden, skeptical mind that, of course, he’s here to love and comfort me, he’s here to watch over me, he’s here to swoop, screech, flicker, glow and to light my path. Most importantly, my dad is “here”, so simply and so beautifully, to remind me that he’s here.
And even when the Hawk flies away, the flickering streetlight returns to uninterrupted illumination, and morning gives way to day — my dad will still be here. And though Nothing Gold Can Stay, I know now that my dad’s love and presence will forever remain.

Nothing Gold Can Stay   {Robert Frost, 1923}

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.


20 thoughts on “Flicker

  1. I haven’t heard from you in awhile! Always enjoy your blog. It encourages me to do a better job everyday. With my daughters and my grandchildren and my friends. I also love Robert Frost. Loren Nancarrow was such an inspiration to all of us. I always learned something new when I watched him on TV. YOU are a legacy to his kindness. Good to know you’re doing good things with your life. Stay healthy and happy.
    Sharon Everingham ( native San Diegan, living in Austin)

  2. I’ve had similar experiences with Falcons since my husband died. We shared an awe of falcons and shortly after he died, when I was visiting his grave in Escondido, I prayed for a falcon to fly over, as a message from Don that he was around, in Spirit. I rose to leave, falcon-less, when one appeared out of nowhere and circled over his burial site…I stayed another 30 minutes, marvelling at that falcon’s presence. Have had many awaiting me on lampposts or circling over my car on familiar travels to places we used to go. God is fun, and interesting, and sends us salve. I love it.

  3. I love to read your writings Hannah. I also lost my dad as well as my mom 19 years ago and being a daddy’s girl, it’s still tough for me. I still talk to my dad everyday and although I don’t feel his presence as much as I did after he passed away, I know he is still watching over me. I’m glad to hear that you know that this is your dad because when I would share things that happened to me after my dad passed away, people would look at me like I was off my rocker. Even so, I knew it was my dad the whole time, so to hear it from you as well, makes me believe that I’m really not crazy and that we were really loved by our fathers and that it’s their way to let us know that we’re never alone.

  4. I loved that story !! Thank you for sharing. I’ve always avoided the quietness of early mornings. I’ve struggled with accepting the peace that it brings. I will look at it differently now because of you.

  5. This was a pleasant surprise today. Miss your blogs. I’m glad you finally got the message, your Dad must be worn out trying to get the message to you. 🙂 ❤ Leave it to, Loren to make sure you got it.

  6. I too, miss your writing. I decided awhile ago to take the unusual or unexplained as a hug from family, a friend, or just the universe saying hi. I always give my thanks for these experiences, more to remind myself not to take life for granted, or even the little things, like green lights and free flowing freeway lane on a crowded freeway after I’m leaving late from work and both my service dog and I really need to use the restroom get a big “Thank You!”.

  7. So Happy to read this. I too loved the stories and guidance from your Dad, and now love hearing him live on in you. Dragonflies, for me represent my Dad who passed away almost 16 years ago. Every time I see one, at times quite frequently I just say “hi Dad, thanks for coming by. I needed that today.” I was even visiting friends in Colorado last year and they told me they never see dragonflies there. Well, we saw at least 3 while we were there! There were even dragonflies on the wallpaper border in the room we stayed in and she had never even noticed (it had been her daughters room that was off to college). Elyse is a very smart friend. 😉

  8. Hannah ~ Thank you for your thoughts, a good reminder that often times the ‘answers’ are circling just over our head, while we simply complicate the process of understanding them.

    My father passed suddenly years ago while on a fishing trip in Central America with my brother and I. At the time my father was in a boat with a friend while my brother and I were together in a another boat in a different location. Oddly, before learning of my fathers death, that afternoon in my minds ear I kept hearing a whistle that my father blew to call me home for dinner when I was a child. It was a very specific ‘weeee-ohhhh’ he generated by using his fingers against his mouth, it signified ‘come home now’. Much like you, following my fathers passing I grieved, missed him dearly and thought of him daily. Months later while doing the most mundane of chores, yet with my mind clear, I thought of that day in the boat hearing my father’s whistle and ask myself what possibly could that have signified. In the same instant that the question was asked I felt a joy and release from grief that took my breath and literally brought me to my knees. The answer I received was an affirmation that my father was Safe and I no longer needed to grieve for him or be fearful. Though difficult to convey in words for me personally the event was miraculous, To this day I remain grateful, I still think of my father daily yet never again in sadness, Interesting where and how we all come to find the answers we seek, be it a whistle remembered out on the ocean, in a hawk circling overhead…..

    I was given a mantra that reminds me where to find the Light in times when I am in darkness: “I rest in God, I am Safe, there is nothing to fear.

    So here is to our fathers’ passed, ‘Nothing Gold can stay’, yet it will never leave our heart. Be well Hannah and thank you once again for this reminder. Smiles.

  9. Saw your blog for the first time, it was on my FB page when I logged in this morning. This was the second post I read and I felt like I was meant to read it…I felt such a connection to the love of early mornings, hawks, even the poem…I lost my dad 22 years ago and I still see and look for signs that he is with me. What really struck me this morning though is about a week ago I randomly found an old message your dad had sent me. Random, nothing important, but at the time I thought about trying to forward to you just because…it was your dad, and his words. I know how I feel when I run across something in my dads handwriting, stuff like that…anyway, take care and best wishes to you-

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