‘I ran into the wilds to heal myself.’ Helen Macdonald

‘I ran into the wilds to heal myself.’ Helen Macdonald

I was very gangly. There are 12 plasters on my knees, I’m wearing shorts and I have a Viking shield and a plastic sword… that was me!

She [the goshawk] had muscles like a pit-bull. She reeked of wildness. She was amazing.

Friends say a parrot is emotionally better for me than a goshawk. But parrots are more vindictive! The one I have picks the keys off my keyboard and hides them around the house!

Did you know… that in the seventeenth century England, hawk toes were called ‘pretty singles’? Parts of my brain are full of this rubbish. It will never leave!

You can be eccentric in Cambridge but only a certain type. You can wear tweed and speak Latin but carry a bloody great hawk on your fist…!

People would shout ‘Harry Potter!’ It used to make me cross. It’s not an owl, it’s a goshawk!

It felt like an alternative world. The only people who would approach and talk to me were drunks, people travelling from other countries and teenage Goths.

A wild hawk would go up a tree and digest its food. Mine would sit and watch TV with me. She must be the only goshawk to have watched more Colombo and antiques shows!’

Dad taught me that the world is full of many, many beautiful things. Be kind and try and see as many of them as possible.

We see birds of prey as particularly noble and free and wild. It’s one of the most enlightened animal/human relations. Mable was the most bewitching, inhuman, extraordinary thing.

I ran into the wilds to heal myself. I felt a wildness that was incredibly addictive. But I got lost. I realised I needed people.

I had an epiphany. This was a partnership between two utterly different beings in two different worlds. That was the joy.

Helen Macdonald is the author of H is for Hawk.

From an event at Foyles with Jonathan Ruppin

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