Living in Springfield has had a number of delightful – if unexpected – advantages. The best of the drives in to work from my rented home in Republic takes me over farm roads and rolling hills, a landscape probably much like it was back in the days of the Civil War, during the battle of Wilson’s Creek (the battlefield’s national park is right here.)

      November and the big sky panorama have given me the regular gifts of hawk sightings over the past week-plus. And at work, another delight: Across from our offices is an expanse of undeveloped lots – a “prairie” we called it as kids. Over those fields, red tails soar and pounce and are mobbed by crows. A harrier plies the air, hovering impossibly as he hunts. Flocks of blackbirds swarm to throw the hunters off track. So, a dilemma familiar to birders everywhere: do the work I’m paid to do, or go watch for raptors? Which would you choose?