On New Years morning, sixty seconds after I said, “I’ve never seen a bald eagle,” I saw a bald eagle.
Jeanine and I spent New Years Eve with friends at Greg and Susanne’s house on, believe it or not, Eagle Lake, outside Brevard. We were making breakfast when Susanne mentioned that the neighbors had been emailing about a pair of eagles in the area.
That’s when I made my factual-wishful comment about never having seen an eagle.
Start the stopwatch . . . now.
My friend Jerome asked Susanne if she had binoculars. I do not own a set of binoculars, but if I did, and you asked to borrow them, it would be an hour minimum before I found them. Susanne produced a pair within ten seconds. Jerome crossed the room to the windows overlooking the lake and, thirty seconds later, said, “Come here, Russ.” He pointed to a peak on the far side of the lake — “just below there, a little to the right, near the top of the pine tree” – and handed me the binoculars.
And there it was. The white head and neck, the blackish-brown body, perched on a limb, looking over the lake. It was a quarter mile away, so the image in the binoculars was only modestly sharp. I couldn’t make out the yellow beak or see the eyes. But still. A bald eagle. Sixty seconds. No kidding.
There’s a Wendell Berry’s poem, “To the Unseeable Animal,” that begins this way: “My Daughter: ‘I hope there’s an animal / Somewhere that nobody has ever seen. / And I hope nobody ever sees it.'”
Wendell Berry and his daughter better not invite Jerome for New Years.