Have you ever seen a bald eagle in the wild? In flight? Its huge wingspan and the kind of galumphing grace with which those broad and heavy wings move through the air?
Well, I never had. Until Raymond and I moved to Queensborough.
When I was a kid growing up here at the Manse, we were taught in school that the bald eagle was the national symbol of the United States, and that it was also a species on the verge of extinction. And even though I now know (in my logical brain) that the bald eagle has been saved from extinction and is doing quite well, it was still a shock and a thrill the first time one suddenly flew across my field of vision here in Hastings County. That was last spring, on a sunny and warm afternoon when I was driving home to the Manse from work and taking the back roads, Tannery Road and then Harts Road, between Madoc and Queensborough. It was on Harts Road, as I was watching and ruminating vaguely about the cloud of dust that the car was kicking up on the newly gravelled roadbed, that the bald eagle appeared, flying low and slowly over the road right in front of me. And I remember thinking, “Oh my lord – was that a bald eagle?” And it was.
I saw another one – or maybe it was the same one – at the start of this week, also as I was driving home from work. For who knows what reason there’s been a lot of roadkill on the local highways recently, porcupines and raccoons and skunks. And as I came over the lip of a hill heading north from Madoc on Cooper Road – just about three-quarters of a mile east of where I’d seen the eagle on Harts Road – I spotted a large bird nibbling on some of that carrion bounty. As my car approached, the bird had to move for its own preservation; and as the bird rose up, majestically, right in front of me, I realized once again that it was a bald eagle.
And you know, to live in a place where bald eagles sometimes rise and fly majestically right in front of you – that is something, I think. Really something.