Yesterday I scrambled up the side of Rattlesnake Mountain with my father. It was an unusually hot day for May in the Adirondacks, and by the time we summited we were both puffing, leaking sweat and reeking of bug spray. We flopped down at our usual lookout point (marked by a pine tree on the cliff’s edge inexplicably decorated with Christmas ornaments) and slurped down our water, reveling in the cool breeze and taking in the panoramic beauty as our heart beats leveled out. Mere moments after we had sat down I noticed a large bird coast across our line of vision, enormous wings outstretched, the very picture of strength and grace that we were not.
He doubled back and swooped by a little nearer and we realized with awe that he was a bald eagle. We soon noticed a second, and then a third. Out here in the middle of nowhere we sat on our perch and watched in wonder as the three of them swooped and soared above and around us, kite-like, never once having to flap their wings, and I wondered if they were having fun. Can they know how lucky they are? As they surf the breeze do they ever once think, in their own bird-way, ‘Wow, this feels good’?
These three majestic birds covered astonishing distances. At one moment they appeared as impressive beasts floating right above our heads, and at the next they were mere specks on the horizon across the bay. They soared about, tracing loop-de-loops and figure eights, swirls and zig-zags in the cerulean sky. Where the wind took them, they went. Free and without agenda.
My dad says they were looking for food and staking out their territory for all to see, and I concede that yes, okay, that is probably what they were doing. But I hope that even as they carried out the difficult task of surviving in the wild, they were enjoying themselves. I mean, with that view, how could you not?