As I mentioned yesterday, I was going to amend my plan today and go out first before tempting distraction. I did so, but it was a chilly ride with winds blowing in from the ocean. I picked up my medications from the pharmacy and then promptly skedaddled back home.
And was I ever glad to get home. I have not been on the computer much recently because it seems to wear me out, and I figure I need to be up and out as much as possible when it feels good to do that. Consequently, I have not been watching my eagle family at Decorah as much as I would like. As you may recall, a friend of mine sent me a link to this eagle nest site in early April. I thought I would just check it out, and, whoa, much to my surprise, I developed a severe case of eagle fever. This family of two parents, who built a nest some eighty feet high in a cottonwood tree adjacent to the Decorah Fish Hatchery, have now shown more than a million viewers, what it means for an eagle family to survive. Many of us have watched them through rain and snow and winds that shook the nest so much we feared the worst. The adults brooded over the three eggs and then the tiny fluffs of gray fur that hatched. We watched as the babies grew too big to snuggle under Mom or Dad, but, so cute and sweet they would still try to crawl under the parent when the weather was was cold or wet.
Eagles grow at an accelerated rate so that at a few weeks old, they are like teenagers. The last couple of weeks all of us with eagle fever have watched the eaglets develop strength and coordination as they flapped their wings and jumped around the nest, often landing on one another, making us laugh out loud; they do this to prepare for flight. Before they fly, or fledge, they jump from the nest to a nearby branch; this is called branching. Every day for the past week or two the most common question, especially when one eaglet would be out of the camera’s range, was, Did one of them branch?
Today, it happened. It was more exciting than we could have imagined. I missed the actual moment when the first eaglet branched, but I got to see both that branched return to the nest and then jump off again. The last one in the nest, who the experts believed to be the middle eaglet, whom we call E2, was in the nest, seemingly very upset that his/her siblings were gone. S/he was fussing something fierce and was furiously flapping and jumping all over the nest in, what we all thought, was its attempt to branch, too. And, E2, we were all thrilled to know, branched to join his/her siblings by early evening.
If you have never seen a nest in the wild, I highly recommend that you put this on one of your life’s to-do list. More people in the chat room there and on FaceBook who are following this extraordinary family say that witnessing this family grow together has helped them deal with rough times in their lives to the point that it has changed their lives. I feel that way. This has touched me in a way that I never expected. It soothed me, and it made me laugh till I cried on days that I was feeling less than giggly. Witnessing the adults struggle on days that were more than some of us could bear to watch, working together as a team, hunting and feeding and spreading their wings over their young to keep them safe from cold and wet was really inspiring. It reminded us that the beauty in life comes with a struggle not just for us as human beings but for all living creatures. It also reminds me that to progress through life, we have to encounter a certain amount of risk. While nonhuman life has instinct, humans have a will with which to make choices. That is what makes our life special. It is also what helps us cope and helps us choose how to deal with struggles and chaos so that we can contribute meaning to our life. No matter what happens in life, I think we must have meaning. When we weave our way around obstacles, sometimes the obstacles seem to be more important. But they are not. What is most important is the meaning of our life, and that deserves our focus, our attention far more than the obstacle, no matter how large or how many.
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2004–2011 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.