I watched as the cat prowled the lawn under the bird feeder. An instinct honed over thousands of years, the predator stalking its feathered prey. Muscles rippled under sleek fur as the orange tabby crouched in the long grass much as its great cousin the tiger might be doing in the tamarisk shrubs along river banks on the Indian subcontinent.
A dark shadow passed over the green grass. Great wings beat and the cat thrashed as it rose into the sky held fast in the grasp of the unyielding talons.
In an instant the predator had become the prey.
The hawk laboured to clear the hedge with the orange cat hanging dazed beneath it. Once clear of the hedge the hawk lifted twenty feet into the air before the cat recovered its wits and, twisting, spun in its skin and sank its front claws into the bird. Its hind legs pistoned as it tore at the feathered underbelly.
The two combatants careened erratically across the sky while feathers floated to earth. Locked together, they dropped behind the hedge, only missing trailing smoke to look like a biplane plunging to earth in an antiquated war film. I watched, fascinated, for signs of movement. Nothing save the breeze stirred the leaves of the hedge.
As I was about to turn away, the foliage parted and the orange tabby pushed its way through the hedge trailing a mighty wing from its mouth. The predator turned prey was king again, but as he walked, one eye was trained skyward and there was a quickness to his step as he hurried across the lawn.
Brian Laing is a forty-something veterinarian by trade, writer by desire. He lives, practices and writes in a small rural town in Ontario, Canada.