In the warm, womb-like space of the cottage, the light from the open fire flickers and casts dull shadows of birds across the wall. On my gloved hand, a slender, lightweight and beautifully patterned female sparrowhawk. To my left, a smaller but no less impressive male. Both hawks emanate a quiet, self-contained calm. A fine balance of precision and coiled unsparing instinct, all contained within a gossamer skein of feather, skin, muscle and bone. They remind me of that thin slither of a moment just before a jack-in-the-box pops. Months ago these hawks arrived, via a vet, from the wild, injured. To have them legally in my possession is a rare pleasure.

The Farmer’s Son