Surely I must have told this story before: Third grade, being physically educated in greek dodgeball at Santa Margarita elementary school. It’s an early summer scorcher, must be near the end of the school year, teachers are probably just running out the clock with extra PE sessions.
It’s so hot the blacktop is semi-molten. It reeks of tar and sticks to my shoes a bit as I lunge from the incoming projectiles hurled at my head by staggering ten-year-old brutes easily twice my size.
Anyways though I’m mostly not paying attention to the ‘game’ but instead I am watching a loose knot of vultures that gyrates overhead, they are catching the thermals that are rising from the searing pavement.
But then here: there is something different. This vulture has a white head and tail. I’ve never seen one before, but instantly I know what it is. Still, I can’t quite believe it – this seems really special, almost magical. My heart starts pounding and I probably bounce up and down a little bit as I point to the sky and shout:
“Guys! Look! A BALD EAGLE!”
Right on target the dodge ball, un-dodged, connects with the side of my head.
Actually I made that last part up, I think everyone just ignored me. Not that I cared. I was THRILLED.
This is not that eagle of course, but one that we saw at Poore Lake on the east side of the Sierra Nevada on Monday. A bit far away, but unmistakeable. I’ve seen a number of these birds since that first schoolyard sighting but I still can’t help to be a little awestruck each time I see one. It’s in my blood I guess.
They are filthy thieving animals though you know.