Here be eagles.

Bald eagle

A bald eagle in flight, looking very much like the one I chanced upon this week on the road home to Queensborough. What a beautiful, majestic thing to see! (Photo from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology‘s excellent All About Birds website)

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.

4 thoughts on “Here be eagles.

  1. Excerpt from Sam Slick, chapter “The American Eagle”, c. 1834:

    “The British can whip all the world, and we can whip the British. It’s
    near about the prettiest sight I know on, is one of our first-class
    frigates, manned with our free and enlightened citizens, all ready
    for sea ; it is like the great American Eagle on its perch, balancing
    itself for a start on the broad expanse of blue sky, afeard of nothin’
    of its kind, and president of all it surveys. It was a good emblem
    that we chose, warn’t it?”

    There was no evading so direct and at the same time so con-
    ceited an appeal as this…..”

    • Classic! Gracious, it had been a long, long time since I’d thought of Sam Slick and The Clockmaker and Thomas Chandler Haliburton (after whom, I assume, the county of my birth was named) – thank you, Mark! Great quote!

      • I never knew that about Haliburton Co. ! And I wasn’t aware of his involvement in the Co.. wrt to land matters, settlement, etc… Seems like that area was a going concern at that general time. If you know Sam Slick at all, you know he took every opportunity to knock the east coast for its moribund state and lack of progress.

        I can’t believe you remember your dads poem by heart !! Impressive. I just re-read it, and giggled again.

      • I’m so tickled that you’ve enjoyed Dad’s long-ago poem, Mark! I just wish I had what I think is a missing verse. Perhaps one day I will find it among Dad’s papers.

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