Tuesday, May 31, 2016
I took that photo with a fancy camera that a friend let me borrow. I felt almost giddy when I peered through the lens and saw these magnificent creatures. That's the female bald eagle on the right, and the male has just flown in. The sky was impossibly blue, and the nest was perched high above a canyon and dam, at the top of a spindly tree. The male flew in and the female left. Then the female flew back and the male left. Eagles soar. The chicks poked their heads up every now and then, I sighed and felt the same sense of exhilaration each time. It was breath-taking, a sight I will never forget.
I also saw my first owl -- four Great horned Owls up in a tree behind a library near Huntington Beach. Some of you might remember that I lived in the woods for three weeks on Whidbey Island last summer. I had a three-week residency at Hedgebrook that seems like a dream today, but I swear it happened. What didn't happen there is that despite all of the other women seeing owls and my hearing owls, I never did catch sight of one. I didn't take it personally and decided that perhaps I was meant not to see an owl, but I've had an obsession with owls since childhood when I collected them in the way that nerdy, bookish girls collected things in the early seventies. I even hooked an owl rug in green and orange that hung over my bookshelf whose top was covered with them.
So there you go.
After seeing the four owls sitting in the tree, I teared up. The tears ran down my face when one of the adults swiveled its head and looked right at me. I could swear I had one of those spirit encounters. My friend gave me that gift, that encounter. Over the last fifteen or so years, I've felt, often, like I'm stifling panic, like I'm going through life strongly but more willfully than naturally. It's a pick your baby up and stash her under your arm and run away, away, away kind of feeling and I've had it more often than not. It's a lonely feeling. It's a Dickensonian my life is a loaded gun kind of feeling, and when I gazed into the owl's eyes or she gazed into mine I could feel the wind at my back but peace ahead and maybe even right there in front of me.
After I saw the owls, I wandered with my friend through the park, looked up through bark and branches and leaves to green and a portal to blue sky. It was almost too much so I lay down on the ground and closed my eyes, felt the good good earth at my back.