Saturday, December 13, 2008

The eagle has landed

From my last post, "The first man in the moon" to "The eagle has landed". Last night, I was able to capture detail of the moon with my new camera for the first time ever. Today, I was exceedingly fortunate to capture the catalyst for ordering my new camera. I'll get there, but first...

It never did snow yesterday but the forecasted winter storm finally blew in with a vengeance, bringing plummeting temperatures and powerful winds, resulting in a wind chill factor of below 20 degrees. I almost didn't go out today...I almost let the ego with its toes under a heating pad and a fuzzy blanket wrapped 'round its shoulders talk me into staying home. I won't quote the conversation here, but rest assured, it wasn't an easy battle. Once again, I'm enigmatically happy that I have to go and get my own mail since it's not delivered; it gives me a reason to get out, even [especially] when staying in would be the easy thing to do.

After bundling up warmly, feeling not unlike Ralph's little uber-layered brother in A Christmas Story, I headed toward the post office, camera in my pocket. Whoa, was it ever cold out there! Bitter cold...there's a reason they call it that. Granted, I'm just not used to that kind of cold, living in a surprisingly temperate climate with few weather extremes. It hadn't occured to me that, as easy as it was getting to the post office, it would be that much more difficult facing the wind that was initially at my back.

Sometimes, living in the moment can possess one to do peculiar things. Like going for a bicycle ride, looking for eagles, even in frigid temperatures and howling winds. The lump in my coat pocket reminded me that I had a new camera, and having a new camera reminded me of why I'd bought it...because I hadn't been very successful at taking photographs of the eagles in a nearby nest. While my ego sat at home, nice and toasty warm (relatively speaking) and drinking a lovely cup of tea, I made my way the mile or so to the eagles' nes
t. Against the wind. It proved to be as difficult for me as riding up hills; I had to stop frequently because I'd run out of pedal power. And my eyes were watering from the wind. And my nose, hidden beneath my scarf, threatened to undo my efforts of sniffling its runny contents back into my sinuses. I'd stop, rest for a few minutes, take care of my orifices, then carry on. Side note: the contents of a tissue freezes extremely rapidly on days like today.

Whew...I finally made it to the spot where I take most of my pictures, thanks to both the anticipation that I just might see an eagle or two and to the lack of common sense. From this particular spot, on a clear day, I can see Mt. Baker and the surrounding hills. This is also where the two bald eagles' nests are. It's a pretty spot...let me sho
w you.From this perspective, Mt. Baker is to the right, the mountain range in Canada is to the left, and the two eagles' nests are behind me at, say, seven and five o'clock.

The wind was whipping me around, preventing me from holding my camera steady, which was a good test for its shake-reducing feature. I perservered, with some of my shots coming out better than the others, depending on the gusts of wind that were coming at me from between 15 and 35 miles per hour. And then...then it was time to focus on the nest. One is more new and more active than the other; this is the one where I only just missed the eagles flying when I was here last.

I approached the grove of trees where the nest sits high above the ground. The trees were swaying, making me a bit dizzy to look up. I was in the process of snapping photos of the nest in between stronger gusts of wind when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something. Looking away from my camera, I saw him! The male eagle of the pair was trying fervently to get to the nest, but was experiencing much technical difficulty with the cross winds blowing him to and fro. It was an amazing show to watch him maneuver, get close, then fall back because a gust would send him off course. Even though I could see him in the viewfinder, it was so windy that my focus kept losing its course, as well. Luckily, I was able to snap a few captures of his approach...and then it happened.

The wind died just enough to allow him to fly right over th
e top of the nest, into easy view of my camera. I held my breath, made a wish, said a prayer, and pressed the button. At that instant, I saw that he was looking down. At his nest? At the crazy interloper who was watching his air show? I can't tell, but I'm elated that I got the shot. No, it's not professional quality, but as I stated in my last post, it's not about the picture or the equipment. It's about the experience, of being there to appreciate all that was necessary to make the events of that very moment possible. My brisk venturing and roaming in weather not fit for man nor beast (save the eagles), fighting the wind and runny nose and achy bones from the cold ceased to matter. What mattered was being here, right now, to watch this noble creature battle the elements to return safely to his home.

Brace yourselves, here comes the lesson. And isn't there always a lesson?

If I'd have stayed home, where I would have been relatively warm and comfortable, I'd have missed this. Not just the shot, but the experience of watching the eagle's triumph against a force greater than the both of us. Had I stayed home, I would never have known that I missed the shot. Yes, there are times to be still, but not just because it's easier than going out into the cold. Have a good, hard think the next time it occurs to you to ride your bike, or take a walk, or just get out and move. Do you make excuses to avoid it, or do you follow through? The easy way rarely affords one the majestic view, the journey that makes all the difference and the spirit-lifting experience of doing what isn't necessarily easy. Who knew that Nike's slogan of "Just do it" actually has the potential to create new neural pathways, to change our lives for the better, if we keep following the calling to get off of our arses and open our do the right thing instead of the easy thing.

The goal doesn't have to be grandiose. I merely set out to attempt to accomplish one of the goals I'd set for myself, taking amateur photographs of eagles. I could have done that tomorrow, but I did it today. And because it was a hard thing to do, I think I appreciate what it took for both me and the eagle to be at the right place at the right time. My ego missed that opportunity, but my consciousness was awestruck.


Kylee said...

I love your final sentence, Tee! I'm so glad you accomplished your mission!

How did you know it was a male?

Tee said...

I'm not 100% certain I was watching the male, but I'm old school; I don't always subscribe to the "gender-neutral pronouns" style of writing. However comma..."he" was the slightly smaller of the two, so it leads me to believe it probably was the male.

I have a pic of a juvenile, as well, taken very near the pair's nest; I assume he's their progeny. With the recent floods, I haven't been out there lately, but I hope to do that this week.