The Eagle in the Tree

     I am not a stranger to Bald Eagles. Living on an old saltwater farm means we occasionally see one passing by, soaring above the marshes back behind our woods looking for something yummy to eat, dead or alive. Young eagles don't get their adult plumage -- the white head and tail -- until they are about five years old, so the best way to identify one soaring is its shape: they are called "flying planks" for their straight-across silhouette. 
Maddy Vertenten photo

    But when I was washing dishes looking out the kitchen window, it wasn't a flying plank I saw. It was a really big bird flapping across the back yard and clambering into a pine tree. I started yelling. "Oh my gosh, a Bald Eagle! Right there!" It hopped around until it found the right branch, where it was sheltered from view but warmed by full morning sunlight. And there it sat for a full hour. Sometimes it preened its feathers, sometimes it dozed (I saw its eyes closed), sometimes it even tucked its head under its wing. I kept expecting it to take off, but even the small pack of crows that found it and harassed it briefly gave up, and the eagle went back to sleep.
     Eagle is a sacred animal in many indigenous cultures, honored as a messenger of the great spirit. The natural distance separating me and this wildness had been crossed, and not by me. I felt humbled and grateful to have this Eagle find rest for awhile in my back yard. 

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