This is how each day should begin. Walking directly west on my road early this morning, the bright sun to my back, I saw something big high up in a broken-limbed tulip poplar at the edge of some scrubby woods. I thought at first it was a balloon, dark with a silver edge to it, some migrant from a child’s birthday party. No, it was too big and too balanced. Then … even great horned owls are not this big so maybe a turkey vulture. I looked for others. Maybe this had been the site of a night roost. I began to run toward it.
Even with the sun in its eyes, it did not hesitate. When I emerged from the shadow of the tree line, it rose, veered south and with its enormous wings beating quickly swept over the field, then glided, the straight line of its wing profile leaving no doubt — a fully mature, bald eagle, its wing span at least 5 feet and maybe more. The entire visitation took no more than 20 seconds.
I ran into the field, following its path to where it had skimmed over the trees and down over the next valley. I kept my eyes up to the sky, hoping for another glimpse. It did not reappear. Lit within, I walked down into the woods in a cold December light.