For the past few weeks, I've heard lots of buzz about Susan Boyle. I love this cheeky chick who knocked everyone's socks off because they didn't expect much from her and well, she is just so fabulous! We were recently having a discussion about her in one of the online groups that I am a member of and I shared that I love it when I come across things like this. I went on to share that it seems we are encountering things like this more and more since being on the road. Then I realized that perhaps it is because I long for them and therefore might be even more open to seeing them when I do encounter them.
For whatever reason, I am tickled pink that we are able to share in these wonderful moments when we look beyond the gift wrapping to the gift inside. Gavin has been one of those gifts this week. Unlike my first impression with Susan Boyle, I was impressed right off the bat with Gavin. Talking to him for about ten minutes let me know he was bright and mature. Then I played pickle ball with him and he knocked my socks off there.
As if that weren't enough though, one night after pickle ball his Grandpa shares with us that Gavin is a falconer. I didn't think I heard him correctly. I mean really, it just isn't something you hear everyday no matter who the person is. "A falconer-as in the people who train the birds?" Yes, it seems I did hear correctly. He is a falconer. I got the Susan Boyle goosebumps at that moment because you see...Gavin is ten.So with his permission, I'll share some of the fascinating things I have learned about his being a falconer because he patiently answered all of my questions about this. There are only three falconers that fly long wings like peregrine falcons in the whole state of NJ. He is one of those and his dad is another which means there is only one other falconer in their state beyond them. Wow! In order to be a falconer there are many steps to take. This is a federally regulated thing and so you have to be licensed in order to do it. You have to apprentice for two years and you have to have the correct gear for yourself and the bird, proper housing and ability to care for the bird and all of that has to be checked out and approved. There are three levels for falconry and some states set minimum age requirements for each level. I asked Gavin if it was rare for someone his age to do this and he said yes, that people were always surprised to see a kid his age doing it.Not only is he a falconer, he has his own falcon. He has trained this bird himself. When I asked his mother how long that process took, she said about eight months of working with the bird every single day. That was just the beginning stuff though. It is apparently an ongoing process so he is still training the bird. I'm in awe of his devotion and dedication to this. He also knows all kinds of cool stuff about his bird that he shared with me, but I'll save those facts for the other blog.
Gavin's Mom wrote and shared some more information with me:
Gavin is not yet a licensed falconer because the age is 12 (to be able to take and pass the exam and be an official apprentice which lasts for two years) and he is only ten. Gavin has been handling and training birds under his dads guidance for many years so the apprenticeship will be a formality for Gavin and probably for the children of many falconers. As an apprentice Gavin will have to trap a wild hawk or falcon; or remove one from its nest. Gavin has assisted his dad in the trapping and training of more than one bird already. Gavin's dad (David) is a master falconer which is a level you can reach after five years as a general falconer. Gavin's dad has been a falconer since the age of 14 (used to be the starting age) - so for 27 years. Gavin and his dad have two Gyr-Peregrine Hybrids and might be getting a Prairie Falcon shortly.
I love that life brought such a neat and interesting person into our path, and I especially love that it was something that so knocked our socks off because we just didn't expect it.
Here is Gavin with his mother, Sherri and his sister, Reagan. Keep up the great work, Gavin, and I hope you knock lots of other people's socks off as you move through life sharing your gift. We think you rock!
Just a little plug for the cutie pie, Reagan. I think one of her super powers is that she has the ability to know when the camera is shooting. Nathan took hundreds of pictures this day, and most of us were completely unaware. Reagan, on the other hand, was looking straight at the camera every time. Beauty and brains with this one!
Living the life full of unexpected gifts in Texas!