The Eagle’s Gift

A wondrous sighting awakens the belief in magic

By Lindsay Moore

When I returned to my childhood home to live several years ago, I tempered my expectations. It was here I had befriended towering oak trees and written plays among the river rocks adorned with wildflowers, and where my worries had been enveloped by the pawpaws and mountain laurels. I served as protector of this sacred and magic realm. In return, it offered me an imaginative and joy-filled childhood. It was my own Terabithia, Narnia, Fangorn Forest or Hundred Acre Wood.

Regrettably, as adults we leave our mystical lands of childhood behind and the magic fades.

Waking early one brisk fall morning, I made the short trek to the steep steps made of large rocks just below my home. Without my consent and unannounced, tears fell in a steady stream as I stared out over the rippling water.

As I pondered whether to allow myself this moment of vulnerability, through my wet lashes, my eyes came upon the majesty of a winged creature. Gloriously on display as it silently soared just inches above the river’s surface, there it was — a harbinger of hope in the 7-foot wingspan of our nation’s emblem: a bald eagle. At once, I was transported back to the magic of my youth. As it made its way downstream, I wondered if it was just a figment of my imagination.

I held this moment close, fearing that if I shared it, the magic would evaporate. And my soul yearned for magic, longing to experience it once again. Not less than a month later, it happened again. This time, the sound of its calls preceded it. For such a majestic bird, it emitted surprisingly weak-sounding calls that resembled a series of high-pitched whistling or piping notes.

Throughout the winter, my interest in the bald eagle only heightened. I wondered where it lived. Did it have a companion, and, if by chance it did, was there a nest?  In my spare time, I read about eagles to better understand their behavior. I considered the eagle my friend and was certain it was mutual. In early spring, I began hiking the ridge line of the neighboring state park in hopes of catching a closer glimpse.

One evening, my eagle finally revealed itself to me, but it was not alone. In my studies I had learned that male eagles were smaller than their female counterparts and I could now discern that my eagle, in fact, was the male. Looking down, my eyes were drawn nearly 300 feet to the top of a sycamore tree situated along the river. There, I noticed an enormous nest that was easily 8 feet in diameter. With my camera and binoculars in hand, I formulated a plan to trailblaze through the woods below the very next day.

Before I could even see the nest in its entirety, I saw the white head of the female perched on top of a large branch. As I approached the edge of the tree line, my eagle arrived circling above with great prowess. I knew that he had seen me, even though my form was barely visible. As he proudly orbited, I noticed a small eaglet flapping its wings inside the nest. At once, I recognized the gift my friend was offering me. I smiled and stood in silence, extending to him my gratitude and respect.

I knew then that magic could still be elicited, regardless of age — we only need to be vulnerable enough to experience it. OH

Though living alongside the Mayo River in Rockingham County, Lindsay Moore is connected to Greensboro through the spirit of Howard Coble and her love of the local arts scene. 

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