Since 1782 it has been the symbol of America and freedom.
It is a mean bird. They are a vicious hunter that has taken numerous fish off of my fishing line. There have been two different occasions that his flight toward me has caused me to jump into a freezing river or lake. I can not count how many small dogs or cats have been lost to his long talons of deaths. On one occasion, while running late to a meeting- I came head-on to an Eagle perched upon the roof of my car, and it would not move. Do you know what it is like to call your boss and tell him you’re running late because the mean Eagle won’t let you leave your driveway?
I have a love/hate relationship with the Eagle. I love what they symbolize. I love seeing them in flight, high above the world- as long as they are at least a mile away from where I am. I love that you find an Eagle at every state and federal building. I love kids get excited when they see one.
However, I am always wary when we come across the Eagle. What new hell awaits me? Are they going to dive-bomb my picnic lunch? Are they going to chase me down the hiking trail? Are they going to steal my recent catch? I don’t catch fish enough for them to use my boat as a buffet. Why is there always more than one in the area at a time? There is no way to keep them all in your sight when they are playing with your emotions. You can’t fight back against the Eagle. It is illegal. You have to take their abuse and smile as they fly away.
And don’t tell anyone that you do not like the Eagle. It is anti-American. It is against everything that this country stands for. Half the population has an Eagle tattooed on them or has some picture hanging on the living room wall. I have shared the stories on why the Eagle and I are not on talking terms, but the blame is always put on me. I am the bad guy. I shouldn’t have taken that peanut butter sandwich with me without bringing a second one. I should have known that I needed to share my Oreos. I shouldn’t have set down my coffee cup if I didn’t want it taken. And heaven help me, for every three fish that I catch- 2 belong to the Eagles. Where the hell is the rule book on the human/Eagle relationship? I need a copy of Relationships for Dummies- the Eagle edition.
On my most recent fishing trip, I refused to pick up a fish pole because I saw an Eagle eyeballing me in the distance. So instead, I sat my happy ass in the passenger seat and patiently waited for a Beluga Whale to come to play with me and the beach ball that I brought along. That saying something. I rather take my chances playing with a whale in the Cook Inlet in an Alweld River Boat than take a chance of coming face to face with another Eagle.
Thirty minutes into the trip, we were at least 6 miles off the coastline, and I finally felt safe enough from the flight plan of the American Eagle that I began to get comfortable and started enjoying the view. That was my first mistake. I let my guard down. Second mistake? I closed my eyes and allowed the sea air to fill my lungs with peace and happiness. Finally, it was the end of the trip, and we were heading home. I was happily looking forward to a warm cup of coffee and the pack of Oreos sitting in the truck seat. We slowed down to round the sandbar to head to the boat launch; a small inlet of land was off to my left; I knew that it was there, but I hadn’t paid it any attention on the way out. That was the third mistake- not knowing my surroundings.
A pack of Eagles was hiding in the massive amount of Seagulls that had just landed from their flight above the boat launch. I learned from an old-time Alaskan halibut fisherman that if you spot a large group of Seagulls flying in a low tight circle, that usually means a storm is on its way. And since there were about 1,000 in the small area, I assume a biggy was coming in. That is where my nemesis was waiting. Blotches of black and brown were hidden among the small white bodies, waiting patiently for their tribute from me. There had to be a least 20 of them; I was surrounded and nowhere to go. They had me in the most precarious position- I couldn’t jump into the Cook Inlet- the tide was coming in, and the bottom of the ocean was like quicksand. I didn’t fish this time, so I had no sacrifices to give me. The truck was up on the pier, and I was down in the boat.
My worst fear has come true. I was going to be eaten by an Eagle. I quickly wondered if that made my death patriotic? Would my burial be a Federal event? Would I be the first person to die by Eagle? At least the world would finally know my name. Now granted, there are three other people on the boat. One of them was carrying a club just in case our boat had become a surfboard for a large sea animal; looking back, I was relatively safe.
The boat slows down to navigate the shallow waters; the Eagles watch as we creep to the boat launch; my heart speeds up, I am sweating. Then, one of those pesky Public Enemy Number One’s spread out its wings to its full length and stares at me with its beak open. I shrink further into the bottom of the boat; only the top of my head and eyes can be seen. I take my camera phone and start snapping pictures for my memorial.
We were at the boat launch and loaded up. I don’t remember the 5 minutes it took for it to be loaded and pulled out, but I was soon sitting safely in the truck with my coffee, Oreo’s, and a cigarette. I was told that I helped load the boat, but I don’t remember because I had been in survival mode.
I had won this round! I was alive! Boy, was I hungry! Brushes with death can do that; I needed a giant cheeseburger with a milkshake! My relationship with the Eagle did not change after that afternoon. I am still deathly afraid of their ability to pre-plan attacks and stealth movements. I will still go buy extra live bait to go fishing so that I can offer up my daily tribute. I still prefer to see them with at least a 2-mile distance between us, but I am grateful that they allowed me to live another day to tell my story.
Next time you spy an Eagle, be inspired by its beauty and speed. It is a symbol for many countries because it represents victory, release from bondage, and national pride. It is the one bird that is linked to all the Sky Gods, and since it flys with the movement of the sun- it is considered to be luminous and also represents air and fire.
Send me a picture; God knows that I am good with the face to face meetings.