Thursday, June 23, 2011

Our Eagles

 June 23, 2011
Yesterday was a gloomy, gray, windy first day of Summer. (Enough, La Nina! Time for you to La Amskray)
On our first walk of the day, Rusty the Good Collie and I heard the call of our resident bald eagles. Looking up, we saw the family (Mom, Dad and the Twins) soaring in circle formation high above the tree tops. Spiraling gracefully, they held their suspension in the cloudy sky without one single movement, not one flap of their wings. I took a deep, cleansing breath, pulled my shoulders back to stand up straight and started over on our walk at a brisk pace this time. No more gloom and doom. Thank you, Eagles. They don’t care about the weather. In fact, they like this wind very much. Time for me to have an attitude adjustment.
Eagles are a totem to me. A sign. A spiritual message. Several years ago, our youngest son was in a devastating accident. Our drive home from the hospital was tense and traumatic. Kevin and I tried our best to think positive, to pray and just stay upright.  When we pulled into the driveway, a juvenile eagle was soaring above our home. He stayed there, circling above us until we were inside. A rush of peace went through us—the confidence of knowing that our son would be OK, that we were strong enough to make it through this. I believe the eagle was an angel. Our son is doing very well, healing and creating amazing art.
Later, on our evening walk, the Twins surprised us. They did a fly-by, swooping through the neighbor’s yard and zipping past us so close I could hear their feathers rustle. One of them dipped his wings to the side and  veered off to the fir tree. The other cocked her head and winked at us. In a blink, they were gone. Rusty and I just smiled. How cool was that?
We have several wild neighbors that wander down the alley; raccoons, coyotes, deer, rabbits and an otter family. There are also flocks of colorful goldfinches, pine sisken, robins, juncos, sparrows and hummingbirds that we keep fed, fat and sassy. And the crows are funny, obnoxious residents that act like they own the place. They keep the eagles on their toes, constantly scolding them and harassing them in the sky. We hope they keep the eagles away from their nests and the cute little bunnies in the yard.  
We seem to be on the eagles’ flight path this year. We often see one of the parents sitting in the tippy top of the fir tree, watching and calling to the kids. There have been several training missions with fish parts dropped in the alley. The eagles toss bits and pieces back and forth, then speed straight up in the air and tangle with each other on the way down. It makes me think of our three sons and how they would wrestle in the house, knocking over tables, banging into walls and grab-assing and laughing loudly. Kevin was usually in the mix, too. (Somebody told me that mothers of sons have a special place in Heaven. Oh heck, yeah.)
One afternoon last summer, there was a commotion down near the bluff. A chicken crashed through the window of one of the cabins, landing on the kitchen counter. We checked with Wendy, but their chickens in the coop were all accounted for. We speculated that one of the eagles had dropped their prey, maybe after a wrestling match with another eagle. It was a mystery where this chicken came from. Did somebody else have a chicken coop nearby?  What kind of chicken was it? Ameraucana? Sabelpoot? Little Red Hen? 
Guess again. 
Apparently, someone down on the beach has been regularly feeding the eagles a fresh chicken—a perfectly plucked and cleaned, fresh from the grocery store, plastic wrapped, roasting chicken! Maybe Draper Valley? Foster Farms? I hope it’s local. 
Well, if our eagles are well fed, then maybe the bunny rabbits are safe. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Weather. Or not.

June 16, 2011. 8pm. 55° Gray. Wet. Yucky. 
This has been a miserable winter and spring in the Northwest. At the slightest hint of sun, all of us depressed, pale residents run to our yards and gardens—anywhere in the great outdoors—to revel in the warm, welcome heat of the elusive sun. Even that is not much of a respite, because we all tend to go overboard and end up with sprains and strains, sunburns and heat exhaustion. 
It seems like hell has indeed frozen over. Or at least flooded. So, how wet, cold and dreary has it been? Well, our son and his wife report ducks living in their front lawn. Their house is nowhere near a pond. Trees and shrubs are clinging to their leaves and blossoms, hesitant to open in the cold and rain.  They, too, over-do it when the sun shines. Everything blooms and rejoices at the same time with a vengeance, sending heavy clouds of pollen into the atmosphere. Puddles appear in basements and garages from water seeping up through saturated yards. Roads have washed out.  Yesterday, I saw fat and sassy snails racing across the alley with healthy, ginormous slugs cheering them on. 
I finished planting my vegetable garden on June 10th, over a month later than usual. The tomatoes that I planted then started as robust plants. Two of them have mildew. Weeds have taken over part of the flower beds. Kevin cracked. He couldn’t take it anymore. Weeding every week is not his idea of fun, so he laid down sheets of landscape fabric and bark. We don’t like it, but we hate the crop of milkweed, dandelions and other noxious weeds that were taking over. We drop the alternative “F” bomb frequently: fungus. Kevin wears his fleece jacket all the time, even indoors. I refuse to light the wood stove, even though neighbors burn in their fireplaces regularly. I will not turn up the heat! It’s frickin’ June! (Pardon my French.) But, it’s cold. How cold could it be? I saw a woman walking her dog last night—the dog was wearing a fleece-lined raincoat and the woman was wearing and knit cap and mittens. 
How wet was it?
It was so wet that our wooden flagpole disintegrated!!!!!!! Oh no, it melted! No kidding. We looked out the window and saw that our flagpole was leaning on the neighbor's house. The top brass finial barely missed smacking into their second floor bedroom window. Paul and Wendy heard a big thump against the wall at 4:30 in the morning. Wouldn't that just make your heart skip a beat? 
Kevin tipped the pole back into place and then over. It hit the ground with a miserable thud and broke into sections.  Rotten all the way through. ugh. The wood was like mulch covered in white paint. It was a tube of compost held together with a skin of latex enamel. Kev wrapped up the cord and the flag. No screwdriver needed to remove the cleat. It pulled off easily. 
The sections of the flagpole are piled up in a heap along with other grass and yard waste. Back to Nature. It won’t take the flagpole that long to get there. Rest in peace/piece old driftwood. 
I have a bad case of S.A.D. Look at me sideways and I’ll burst into tears. I am beyond pale. I’m now glow-in-the-dark white, tinged with green. Winter blues. And I hate blue, especially the gray-blue hues. I don’t sleep well. I’ll eat an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies in one sitting. I woke up this  morning with a case of vertigo. I might have OD’d on anti-inflammatory meds. This weather wreaks havoc on my rusty, arthritic knees. Enough! Kevin at least has the opportunity to get out of this crapola. He travels for his job and Los Angeles is one of his favorite places to go. He’s happy to sit in traffic with smog and congestion. At least it’s sunny and warm.  
I demand a  weather do-over. I’m looking for sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, not this winter in a dark cavern in the land that time forgot. It’s the Solstice in a couple of days, for crying out loud. It better be a good summer or my new name will be Jeannie Weenie Screaming Meemee.