Semi-Conscious: What the birds say to her
One day last summer, I saw a bald eagle flying over the mountain by my house. I was talking to a new friend on the phone, and I got excited.
“What is the eagle saying to you?” was what I thought he asked. Excuse me? What is the eagle saying to me? Did he just ask me that?
Not too long ago this summer, I looked to the mountain, and saw what I first thought to be a crow flying, hunting. And then I saw the white head and tail. Mesmerized as always (obsessed, perhaps) I watched the creature fly above the horizon line, disappearing behind the ridge.
Suddenly, he rose again, as if by a sling shot (more likely a thermal) from the other side. And then there were two. They played. They circled, they soared. Up and down and around, buoyed by the breeze we who touch the earth don’t feel. They played, aerial dancing, and I followed them with my eyes, raising my hand to shield my eyes and keep my vision as they flew closer and closer to the sun. I lost them.
And then there were three bald eagles, high in my sky, rising, flying into the sun until they all disappeared.
Later, as I sat reading by the picture window, I abruptly looked up. There she was — right in front of me. She cruised at eye level, nothing between us but the pane of glass and the thick gratitude of my own awe and wonder. She flew downriver, just as she had the first day I had landed here in my beautiful, almost empty cave of a riverside house — on a couch still covered in plastic, afraid, staring out the window wondering if the exit I had taken to set my life on was the right one, and if I would be OK.
It was. I would, she had said to me then. I had heard her message then, loud and clear.
And so, more than a year and a half since she first came to me, I am talking to the birds again. I see them everywhere. I listen to them. The Eagles, Mama Osprey, my brothers the crows and Uncle Vulture. I know I am to listen and acknowledge when they fly over me, or as I see them resting, keeping watch on their thrones of grasping, dead branches.
Mama Eagle gives me perspective, and Mama Osprey calls to me to live in both worlds, to remember to be fearless and that I am powerful — to dive in to the cold deep waters, and that I am stronger than my size reveals. Though she be little, she be fierce. It is Shakespeare, it is Hermia for her love, it is mighty Mama Osprey. It is me. Our beauty is striking when we dive, when the claws come out, when there is nothing between passion and heart, and life and love. I fight, I fly, I carry much more than it appears I can carry. It is not my burden, it is my triumph.
I laugh, and realize that I am like the old man who feeds and talks to pigeons in the park. I am just as crazy. I was hatched in the nest of an Osprey Mama, I took my first breath through the feathers of her small body, and to her guidance I entrusted my first plunge from the safety of the nest, and into the icy river. I am of the Bird Tribe.
What if I’m not crazy? What if .. I dared … to just let go and dive for that trout at 50 mph, straight in knowing that I have a line on him, and though I won’t be able to physically see when I hit the water I know I’m equipped to somehow see anyway in the dark and the cold and the wet, and that I know exactly where he is and that my instincts were right?
What if I believed in everything that my mind told me was crazy? That the flowers, the birds, the river speak to me with love and wisdom and guidance, and that everything was magic? What if I was fearless and a little reckless and jumped from things, and on the Fourth of July rode in the back of pickup trucks going uncomfortably fast, and learned how to ride a motorcycle? What if I loved all of those things?
What if I believed that there were no coincidences, only synchronicity and electric connection, and that the power that fuels love and sex and life is, in fact, magic? What if I just believed that life was meant to be like a perfectly ripened mango, sweet and juicy, sometimes a little messy and sticky, nourishing and ripe and painfully, beautifully sexy? That there is no wasted time and that every interaction is sacred. What if I talked to trees and bees and flowers, and what if I listened to them talk back? What if I believed that everything I saw in the clouds was painted just for me? By Bob Ross?
I think the answer would be something about “for the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies … something something … each hour, day and night, sun and moon and stars of light. For the mystic harmony, linking sense to sound and sight.” Something like, Raise that hymn, Girl! The one about the grateful praise!
That’s not the real world, say “they”… Actually, it is. And it is out of this world. It would be like the opposite of Shel Silverstein’s famous poem “Whatif.” But while he is tortured at night by his whatifs I will be sleeping tight, lulled by the song of the river, crickets and the summer breeze. And I will dream of flying. On eagle’s wings.
Mari Rose Hale is a Glenwood Springs writer. She blogs at mariroseland.wordpress.com. Semi-Conscious appears on the fourth Tuesday of each month in Body & More.
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A Glenwood Springs-based Latino advocacy organization that formed earlier this year about the same time the coronavirus pandemic hit is stepping up to help provide COVID-19 support.