Step By Step

We humans have a funny way of always looking ahead to the next event on our schedule, even when that anticipation robs us of the thrill of enjoying the amazing happenings of where we are. Well, at least I am that way. And this over-busy tedency has been going on for a long time because we even have archaic sayings to refer to our status. “Too many irons in the fire.” is still heard today even though I cannot remember the last time I heated an iron (branding iron or clothes iron) in a fire.

One of the beautiful things about nature is that it forces you to slow down. Nature has a way of wrapping you up in its arms and holding you securely until you quit fighting back and give in to it. Some of us run to a favorite natural setting to escape those fiery irons while others are dragged kicking and screaming away from their electronic mindbenders and noisy distractors. But we were meant to be a part of creation and to enjoy its serenity, beauty and even its harsher sides. Being still along the side of a brook, on the beach near an ocean, on a mountainside or within a shaded woodland reminds us that we a part of something, or Someone, greater than ourselves. That realization rejuvenates us in a way that no drug can. There we are restored and refreshed.

But yet we tend to rush carelessly onward. So let’s stop. Right now. Right here. Take a deep breath and join me here on the snowy bank of The Great Miami River as together we look carefully and gratefully at the here and now.

We are barely settled in when our eyes are caught by a flash of movement. The flash is the majestic yet almost silent wings of an American Bald Eagle as it lands on the ice-covered waters below us. Cindy, the queen of the river has arrived in all her royal beauty and regal splendor! Her alabaster tiara glistens in the sunlight as the shining white train of her plush, dark robe trails behind her and her golden slippers sparkle on the frozen floor. As we watch in silence there is another graceful arrival as His Royal Highness, Jim, the king of this domain, alights by her side. He bears a gift for his bride. He has brought her a fresh morsel of fish for her dining pleasure.

A royal banquet.

A royal banquet.

As we watch the two share the meal we are warmed by the thought that this behavior is part of the courtship dance between pair-bonded eagles. Every day they are drawing closer to each other. Whether vigorously laboring together as they prepare their treetop palace, playfully chasing each other across the sky, locking talons and plummeting earthward or just taping beaks together, they are deepening the bonds that unite them for life. We smile as we realize that this year’s first egg is just a few days away. We know that in three of the last four years the first egg has arrived on February 15th, a late Valentine gift perhaps. Last year’s bitter weather delayed the event by only two days. Love conquers all. We watch the two for quite a while before they fly away together in the direction of the nest.

Soon we are joined by another lone eagle as a young juvenile passes just a few feet in front of us.

A young arrival.

A young arrival.

He seems to be searching the trees for something , or someone. We watch him as he flies down the river, occasionally circling as he searches. We smile as we see the downtown skyline behind him.

Urban renewal.

Urban renewal.

The smile is one of deep gratitude that the long wait for eagles to return to Dayton is behind us. Apparently unsuccessful in his search the young eagle returns to our vantage point and lands on the ice. This bird is a wanderer, too immature to be nesting but not too young to be in love. He appears to be quite young, maybe just a fourth-year loner. But he is not alone for long. He is soon joined by a young female and we can tell by their interaction in the sky as well as in the icy water that this young couple is hearing the call of stirring instincts from deep within. She was quite possibly the subject of his search. He seems to follow her like a  puppy follows a toddler. She moves forward in the shallow water and soon he trails after her. Twice he attempts to land upon her back but each time she thwarts his advances and just flies a bit further away.

Young love...almost.

Young love…almost.

Finally she flies to a distant treetop and perches there. Her young suitor is not deterred. After a minute or two of frustrated hesitation he too flies to the tree and perches near her. There they sit watching their surroundings for several quiet minutes before she is airborne again. This time she snatches a branch from the tree and carries it away.

A sticky situation.

A sticky situation.

She too is sensing the stirring of her instincts but she is so young still. She knows that she has to carry that branch but may have no idea why. But before long she’ll know. The suitor pauses and sighs as he watches her departure then gathering up the pieces of his shattered ego, the puppy follows the toddler again.

As we watch the young male fade into the distant haze we become aware of the chill. We are surprised that more than an hour has past. Although we are cold we are also strangely warmed by these brief encounters. We have been revived. We know that our beloved adult eagles will soon welcome new princes or princesses to the palace and that the young eagles are learning new and puzzling things. Step by step the ancient drama is playing out around us but to each player the scene is a new one. We are privileged to be in the audience at last. Yet as we bask in the warmth of these few precious moments, as we replay them over and over again in our minds in the chill of the riverbank, we can hear the persistent call of our own hot irons. Reluctantly we go our separate ways leaving footprints in the snow as we continue our own story, step by step.

Published in: on February 10, 2015 at 12:29 am  Comments (14)  

14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love this thank you so very much

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. I love reading your posts. Your descriptions make me feel as though I am there seeing it all. Thank you so much!

  3. What a fantastic narrative. I felt like I was right there sitting next to you. 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for your continuing, heartfelt and beautiful narrative poetry on our hometown Jim and Cindy Eagles. I thoroughly enjoy all of your posts. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Diane

  5. I’m almost 87 years old, raised in the village of Harshmanville-adjacent to the well field. I remember my grandfather, David Clingman, taking me several times, numerous years up to watch the eagles. Later in my childhood they stopped coming.
    It is most pleasing to see they are back and that they have such a terrific reporter following them—thanks, Jim.

  6. I am glad that we were able to put a smile on your face Robin. We will all see what the next step reveals as we watch the story play out together.

  7. Thank you Pat. So many would like to join us in the field but just cannot be there. There is no way that we can capture the real magic of the moment but we keep trying to do just that.

  8. I was hoping that I could bring you and others along, Becky. I hope we can all watch them together for many years to come.

  9. Thank you Diane. I strive to compose words that tell their story in an informative yet interesting way. After hundreds of postings I know that at times I am redundant but each year the story repeats with new challenges and victories. It is good to know that the words I am given are touching hearts.

  10. Thank you Mae. Your sweet comment moved me in so many ways. What a blessing to have the wonderful childhood memories of a being a young girl watching eagles while holding her grandfather’s hand. What a haunting statement, “Later in my childhood they stopped coming.” I pray that no other area child who has experienced the joy of eagle watching with a parent or grandparent will ever need to utter those words again. People are destined to come and go in our temporal lives but for those with such childhood experiences each new generation of eagles carries on its wings the memories of years gone by and the familiar touch of an absent loved one’s hand. Your grandfather’s thoughtfulness and your sharing this precious memory with us has touched my heart. Thank you David Clingman and thank you Mae.

  11. Jim,
    This was a stirring narrative. I too felt like I was there with you. I could see Jim and Cindy in their royal attire on the sparkling ice. To me, it read like a fairy tale. I could see the youngsters flying around and exploring new surroundings and new feelings. It was very moving. I live in Nebraska, but I truly felt like I saw what you saw. Thank you for including the beautiful pictures.

    Sandy Stricklin
    Omaha, NE

  12. Jim, what a wonderful way with words you have. How nice it is to follow Jim and Cindy again, this year.

  13. Thank you Sandy. A lot of folks apparently felt the same way. That river bank was pretty crowded. I am glad everyone could tag along for all the excitement.

  14. Thanks again Robert. We just try to share as vividly as we can. We are looking forward to a great year.

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