Wednesday, May 23, 2007


For the past seven weeks, I've been sporadically observing three bald eaglets as they've matured from their early downy fluff to their now adult stature by way of the Norfolk Botanical Garden's Eagle Cam. Tuning in this afternoon to monitor their progress, I found two of the three flapping more deliberately and sustainedly than usual, as well as flying from one side of their 800-pound nest to the other. I instantly burst into smile, and my breath caught: they are so close to flight.

I think it's a miracle that they've made it this far, out there in the elements and prey to who-knows-what hour after hour, day and night, week upon week. Now there is first flight in their very near future; they're expected to take flight around Memorial Day, viewers (numbering around the one million mark, I read) have been told. As I watch them try their wings, I feel their discovery, their teetering between staying and going. I swear they are excited: I feel it. It is clear that they now understand that what they've watched their parents do all these weeks--flying to and from the nest with or without food, day after day--they can do as well. They are about to follow. I try to forget the statistics I've read about survival rates (about 50% survive their first year) as I look on with a parental sort of pride and more than a modicum of concern. I hold my breath and await, one by one, their lift off...any minute now, it would seem.

This morning, when I stepped outside after my daily lap swim, I was met with an eyeful, armful, heart full of sky. Not just any sky. A sky like I've never seen. Clouds of varying sorts were scattered across the canvas of blue as if arranged for my viewing: this sky beckoned. For the first time in my life I felt what I suppose anyone with a passion for flying has felt: "I want to fly that sky," I said aloud. My next thought, crazy but true, was "why not?" Get a pilot's license at 40-something?

Why not.

We'll see about that. But in the meantime, I can feel it already: when the eaglets lift off from that Virginia nest, my heart at least, if not the rest of me too, will lift off right along with them, and I will find myself soaring.

I will soar.


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