On Eagles, Warmth and Thanks

Sitting at my desk first thing this morning I happened to glance out the window just as an eagle motored pretty much across my line of sight. Though seeing an eagle scooting through our personal airspace isn’t exactly uncommon, it still took my breath away. That’s just what it does.

It was fairly early and the mist hadn’t burned off the day. In the distance -- beyond the mist -- a blue sky threatened to break through. But just then it was only a glimmer of blue; a hint. Everything else was bathed in this ghostly light: a heavy mist, then. Maybe even a fog.

The eagle’s vision seemed unbothered by mist or fog or whatever else humans might want to call it. He looked like he knew where he was going: like he was on a mission and wouldn’t be so easily deterred.

To be honest, at first I thought it was a crow. I’m not good at telling from a distance, not like my partner, David, who can tell a crow and an eagle and a turkey vulture by the shape of their wings and the angles at which they choose to fly. Not me though. To me -- so close to my office window and slightly obscured as he was by the mist -- I figured it had to be a crow. But then I caught the almost ghostly glow of his white head, and the majestic cut of his flight. He was soaring.

Eagles do that: soar. Cliché though it might be. They soar, but they do not scream. At least, though I’ve heard a lot of eagle articulations, I’ve never heard one scream. You do hear them, though. They sound... well... they sound ridiculous. They sound like mondo songbirds. They sort of warble. They kinda peep. It’s a loud sound, they’re large birds, after all. But it’s still silly. Maybe it’s just the hype. All those years of hearing “screaming eagles” and such. Or maybe it’s like an SUV with a teeny, tinny little horn. Incongruous, somehow. What’s wrong with this picture? These big huge birds, with wings that span farther than I am tall; who can and do carry away family cats and pocket pups. And then you’re out for a walk and you hear, “Cheep, cheep. Cheep!” Really loud, but still: “Cheep.”

As I write this I don’t hear eagles: I hear the surf crashing against the rocks, perhaps a half mile distant. The wind is pushing through the trees insistently. It sounds like an angry dog, lost in the woods. Throaty and impossibly large. The trees quake in its grip, as though in fear. There’s something majestic about a storm. Something imperious. A storm in full throat will not be denied.

I don’t mind it, not while I’m inside where it’s warm. I’m at my computer, with a blanket wrapped around my legs. There are fingers of flame licking at the window of the airtight fireplace and seeing it adds to the warmth as much as the reality of the fire. It feels warm, but it looks warm, too. Together those things make the reality of this inside -- away from the storm -- more real than what’s outside my front door. It’s an illusion, but a comfortable one at the moment.

It’s a good day. The words are coming easily. The dog is under the desk, near my feet. She offers up her own kind of warmth. The cat checks in every so often, just to make sure she’s not missing out on something fun. David just brought me tea in a huge, cheerful mug. More warmth. Everyone I love is accounted for and well.

So much to be thankful for: another day. Another word. And you. Always, there is you.


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