Monday, January 4, 2016

Eagle in Flight

I knew at once it was something different: longer, stronger, taking up more of the sky.  Broad wings, white head and tail with a supple, muscular stroke. It was over my head and beyond me before I had a good glimpse, but I knew at once this was no hawk.

In a few wing beats it was two houses away, hundreds of feet above me. With shaded eyes I watched it soar out of sight. Surely it was an eagle. I knew of nothing else that would be that imposing, that confident in the sky.

No more than two minutes later the bird was above me once again. It must have turned left at the woods and circled round. Now I had a clearer look, could observe the long, steady flap of those black wings, could be sure that the head was white. Though it was no doubt looking for food, it was calm and unhurried — out for the avian version of a Sunday drive.

I have seen eagles at the lake, at the beach and on a trip to Alaska. But never before had I seen one over the house. It was a good way to usher in the new year, glimpsing such a wild thing in flight. I thought of a passage from Henry Beston's Outermost House, describing a flock of swans: "Their passing was more than music, and from their wings descended the old loveliness of earth which both affirms and heals."


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