Wild and free is the way I want my life…nature’s way for me without pain and strife ~ Curtis Mayfield
Like most sane people, I have complaints about winter. It’s cold. It’s dark. I want to do nothing, but consume morsels of dark chocolate and glasses of wine while in a nest of blankets.
But when the alarm rings at 5:50 am, I get ready to face the day. A decent jacket, good attitude, and eight cups of coffee help.
My fondness for winter started in Quebec. I had to make the best of the worst weather. I danced under an ice palace at Winter Carnival, tumbled down small hills on cross-country skis, and rolled popsicle sticks in maple syrup taffy. I miss real winter, miss the rumblings of snow plows at night and the crunch of ice under my boots.
I didn’t think I would ever miss these things. Maybe what I really miss are mid-day field trips and singing French songs on a bus with the rest of the second-language students.
Nothing lasts forever, but I can’t help but to feel a touch of Cube Fever after being so wild and free.
Here’s how I am dealing with the first winter as a re-patriot:
Winter in Washington State
After a Wii Mario jamboree that lasted until 1:00 in the morning, I woke up early to photograph eagles in Skagit, two hours north from my house in Seattle. I had errands to do that day – taxes and such, but The Sister convinced me it was a good idea.
We hiked a bit in a fairytale landscape: ancient trees bending low as if they wanted to whisper their secrets. Wood-peckers fluttering in the branches. Mossy branches touched by frost and frozen in time.
We (The Sister, Her Boyfriend, and I) noticed three eagles circling above the firs as soon as we got out of the car. When it’s sunny, they fly high; if it’s rainy weather, they stay close to the ground scanning the ground for food.
Wild and Free
Remember when bald eagles were endangered? As a child, I never thought I would see one. I was convinced they would die out and I would only see them immortalized on leather jackets and motorcycle helmets.
I was standing somewhere completely banal, like the parking lot of a gym when I saw my first eagle glide across a rare pale-blue sky. An eagle soars high and quiet. No flapping or prattle from these giant birds. They don’t need it. They are the kings and queens of the sky and sail across it in complete confidence.
That’s what I long to be.
We saw these eagles on our way home and turned around, pulling up close to get a reasonable shot. Mine is lacking, as I don’t have a long lens. Still…it was humorous, as there were three of us in the car, two women, one guy, just like here with the one bald eagle and what we believed were two juveniles.
In total, we saw fifteen eagles that day. Thirteen were wild and free, two were with handlers at a wildlife show. Although it’s amazing to see an eagle up-close, I would rather watch them in the sky.
We finished the day with salad, breadsticks, and hot donuts at the Olive Garden. Wild and free. At least for a weekend.