Friday, October 21, 2011

The Outdoors...On My Terms

It was a gloriously beautiful fall day--bright sunshine against a sky so blue it seemed unreal like one of those brilliantly colored acrylic paintings.

Only it was real.

No clouds of any kind dared to mar this sky's stark beauty. I had come home from spending time with my mom and was out in the pasture walking my big white dog, Carley. She was loving the cool weather. It was around 65 and a breeze was whipping up. It wasn't uncomfortable, but I liked it better in the sunshine. I love the sun's warmth on my face and shoulders on a cold or even cool day. It's comforting like a warm blanket or shawl.

At the edge of the woods, I noticed a large bird gliding just above the trees. I figured it was a buzzard. It was too big to be a hawk and the coloring wasn't right. We have two hawks that grace us with their presence every so often. I love to watch them soar and swoop down looking for prey. They are lovely birds. Sometimes I try to imitate their shrill whistle, and sometimes one or the other will answer me back like Bobwhites tend to do on occasion.

On closer inspection, the bird was not a buzzard. It had to be an eagle! I knew there were eagles close to our area released around a large lake to the north, but I wasn't really sure any had made it down our way. I thought I had seen one a couple years ago, but I was never truly convinced.

I just stood very still and watched this stately bird with its wide spread wings hover in the distance. It was breath taking. I love these moments of happen stance, of unexpectedness.

Truth be told, I love the outdoors, but on my terms. Camping is not one of my favorite activities. I like to be comfortable, in a bed, not on the ground in a sleeping bag. I like room service. But I'm also perfectly happy lying on the hood of a car gazing up at the heavens on a spectacularly starry night watching for a meteor shower. Or I have no problems tromping through a snowy field on my way to a nice hill side to try out a sled. Honestly, we don't have too many snowy days in our region, but when they come, I like to be ready. I also like to go back inside a toasty home to sip hot chocolate next to our Grandpa Fisher Bear wood stove. Yes, I like my creature comforts.

I was the first up at four in the morning back in '97 (I believe) when the Hale-Bopp comet first made its appearance in our eastern sky. I told my family that I was getting up and they said to get them up if it was worth it. I got them up. It was so clearly illuminated against the dark sky. Its tail clearly trailed behind it. Oh goodness, I was just thrilled. I had never seen anything like that before. The first siting was just so utterly stunning. The Hale-Bopp was around for several months, and I looked for it every day. Of course, some days were cloudy, hiding it from view. I felt disappointment on those days. When it finally disappeared to continue its journey in space, I missed it. That comet seemed like an old friend. I guess that's silly, but I watched its journey in our skies on my terms. In the end, though, it left our Earth's sky on its terms.

So now I will watch for the eagle. I started to write "my eagle", but it is not mine. It's part of the fields, woods, and sky. I hope to see it again whether it has a back drop of an incredibly clear blue sky or its feathers glisten with snow flakes.

Yes, it was a gloriously beautiful day.

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