To celebrate Labor Day* I started today with a short chore list of things that I wanted to do, instead of the things that have to be done. I glued the soles of my wool slippers which had turned out to be non-washable and had separated in the wash. I cleaned the long neglected side kitchen counter and the waffle iron in anticipation of making delicious waffles. And, I trimmed the dead wood out of my privet privacy hedge.
The day was early and pleasantly quiet when I started trimming the privet, but just as I was finishing, bald eagle** with badly ruffled feathers winged into my backyard with startling air turbulence, chaotic noise, and the scent of large bird about ten feet above me. I ducked and craned my neck up to see if it was after me. It was a female eagle and she scrambled into the large spruce tree overhead, then was very still within its branches. Soon I realized why, a harrying murder of the young adult crows that live on the church grounds across from my house was pursing it. I left them to wage their intra-avian war and went indoors to my next chore. That eagle was a healthy, beautiful, sharp beaked and taloned bird, with a wingspan of over two yards. But the sleek iridescent black crows are uncannily smart and work together very well. I imagine their territorial dispute ended in a draw, with the crows routing the eagle for today, but she will come back whenever she wishes to make a fly through. All in all, it was delightful that the United States of America's national bird made an appearance in my yard today!
I remember long ago when an friend Mary and I drove for hours from Mesa, Arizona down to Eagle Creek at the base of the White Mountain Range in southeastern Arizona to see the bald eagles that fished the river and nested in the cliffs above it. I had known Mary for over a decade yet never knew that she had epilepsy. She has passed now, but on that day she and I were full of life and enthusiasm to see our first eagles. We parked at a watercraft rental office, but all we could see were tiny little specks far across the wide river which were maybe eagles, maybe not. Mary did not swim well so I did not want to rent a boat. We decided to climb the cliff on our side of the river in the hopes of spotting eagle nests on the other side as the nests are massive structures, 4 to 5 feet in diameter and 2 to 4 feet deep.. The trail up was firm, but very narrow and it hugged the cliff in short switch-backs so we could not see very far ahead. I was in the lead, rounding a corner, when my foot bounced in the air, jerked up by my hindbrain that silently screamed, “Snake, it’s a snake!” to my conscious mind. I saw a very small rattlesnake tightly coiled and motionless in the middle of the trail and I whirled around to run down the trail away from it. My friend Mary stood in my way and met me nose-to-nose with wide-eyed interest. “What is it!?!” I said, “Snake, move, run, go...” She hesitated, so I said, “Run, or I’m running through you.” She whirled around and the two of us lumbered, crashing and skittering, down to the base of the trail in moments; where she promptly collapsed and had an epileptic seizure. She lost consciousness for maybe ten minutes but there was no one around to help us. When she came to she was very tired, embarrassed, and somewhat disoriented. I drove us home. We had not seen any eagles, but we did stop into the gift shop for souvenirs before we left. There I saw very small, tightly coiled plastic rattlesnakes for sale. Pranked.
Now today, forty years later I got to see an eagle!
The bad news is that the eagle family, three or four of them, drove off the crows, moved in right across the street from my house, and they make it unsafe to let my old cat out on the patio.
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* “Labor Day in the United States is a holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers.”
** The bald eagle is no longer on the Endangered Species and Threatened Species List, and now thrives throughout the country.
Caption: North American bald eagle, adult female
Caption: American Eagle Looking At Me Looking At You
(living across the street from my house)
by Annmarie Throckmorton 2018