I’ve always been fascinated by peregrine falcons, especially those that made a home for themselves on a high-rise in the middle of downtown Salt Lake City.
I was a teenager when they first arrived nearly 30 years ago, making a nest on an unlikely ledge overlooking the busiest traffic area. When their chicks first fledged, wildlife resources closed down the street to make sure the chicks didn’t end up as road kill. I was amazed and tickled that the preservation of these beautiful birds was important enough that traffic could be diverted for a while.
Since then, the building the falcons first nested on (Hotel Utah) has been remodeled (now the Joseph Smith Memorial Building), and during those construction years the peregrines made nests on a cliffside at a nearby quarry. But when the building was completed a few years later, the falcons returned! The LDS Church, who owns the building, has since put up a nesting box and allowed cameras to be installed (click here to watch them) to keep an eye on Salt Lake City’s most unlikely residents, whose main diet is, unsurprisingly, pigeons.
I love the idea of survival in any circumstance, of adapting one’s expectations to what’s available, yet still being true to one’s self.
When I started this book series, and I’d drafted over one hundred pages, I still didn’t have a name for one of my main characters (his name was, if I remember correctly, 989). I took a step back and looked at the whole of the Forest at the Edge series. I realized what it was about: Making your life work, even when everything’s seemingly against you.
The peregrines wouldn’t leave my mind, and I eventually realized 989 needed to became Perrin Shin. (Couldn’t name him Perrin Grin[e], however, because–as I’ve written on my characters page–Captain Grin is the most ridiculous name ever. Can you just picture him as a superhero? Talk about nauseatingly cheesy.)
However, Perrin Shin still harks back to peregrines–the fastest animal in the world, the most adaptable bird of prey (found on every continent except the Antarctic) and a . . .
SOMETHING AMAZING JUST HAPPENED!
As I was writing this post, I kept checking back on the falcon cam. I heard the female squawking loudly, then I saw . . . a SECOND EGG! Yes, while I was writing this, she laid another incredible pink egg.
For a moment I felt badly for her that no one was there to witness this. Then I realized females are always alone in the wild laying eggs, and no one’s there cheering or patting her forehead with a damp washcloth.
And then I realized–I’m here, cheering! And likely so are many other falcon-enthusiasts, all over the state and country (world?) that happened to be watching.
And she has no idea that the little camera in her box is showing her hardest and greatest moments.
I think that’s why I love to write this series, why I’m obsessed with exploring the ups and downs and progress and set-backs of the Shins: I get to cheer for them, weep for them, and occasionally sit back astounded at what they overcome and how they persevere.
I’m hoping they will keep giving me hope, just as these amazing peregrines each year remind me life can happen just about anywhere.