January 18, 2015

I’ve been haunting the riverfront, looking for eagles—not a one. I had lunch at my friend Jerry’s house, on Friday. He was so eager for eagles he kept jerking his head toward the window view of the river, at the slightest movement. We saw songbirds, bluebirds, herons, egrets, robins, chickadees, nuthatches, pileated woodpeckers—but no eagles.

On the phone this morning, I said to Sheila S. (we were talking bad movies, acupuncture, house rentals in Elsah, Aunt Jeanie, some tribute Bob Seger band, how crappy is the TV show “The Black List” . . . and where are the eagles?), I guessed I’d hop in the car this afternoon and drive until I saw an eagle.

At noon, I drove down Clifton Terrace to the light. An eagle was perched on the road light. Two eagles were perched on a tree over Scotch Jimmy Island. Three eagles were riding ice floes. There was an eagle perched above Jerry’s house. And my heart beat in five/four time.

About a hundred cars were parked on the shoulder all the way to Alton, and people with elaborate photo equipment and binoculars were jumping up and down and pointing. The car ahead of me had an open sunroof, and the driver was sticking his left hand out the opening and pointing to all the eagles.

I drove across the bridge to Missouri, to the lock and dam, where eagles were putting on a soaring demonstration. The wetlands were full of trumpeter swans and Canada geese and snow geese and American white pelicans, and hundreds of people were jammed into viewing areas and pointing.

Eagles weren’t here when I was a kid. DDT had about wiped them out. Their eggshells were too thin to support the life within. Oh how the local Church Ambiguity of the Mighty Pesticide railed against the liberals who loved birds more than farmers. But take heart, C. of the A.M.P! The monarch butterflies are losing their habitats and Roundup is reaping! (What is “reaping” without its “e”?)

Eagles often fly upside down (try that, Captain Sully Sullenberger, who landed a jet on the Hudson River!). Eagles share parenting, equally. They have eyes sharper than cats’ and they build nests big enough to raft on. Their call is the official clarion of the wilderness. They are avian gods.

And I sit here now, after the first eagles have landed, and I am so eager. And I don’t understand it, and I don’t need to, and I need to see and dream.

“Wolf, on the ground; eagle on the air; majestic and rare: and the music of howl and the shrieking sound of their grace.” Brother of the Stones

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: eugenebaldwin.com. I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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