Eagle Family Hunting on the Salish Sea

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

This family of Eagles were on the hunt down by the salty sea one summery day when I happened upon them not long ago. The lone eaglet was being tutored in the art of fishing salmon from above. They swirled, flapped and swooshed on their magnificent wings, diving down with incredible speed and skill, it was utterly thrilling for those of us witnessing the event from the solid ground.

Unfortunately their hunt was unsuccessful, which is more often than not the case when it comes to hunting. Exhausted from their efforts they all took to the beach to chill out and regain their energy. The Eaglet who had been resting near their father on the beach soon grew restless as his or her growing body was still eager to move so they took to his wings to explore and perhaps find a snack to bring back to their folks. Dad continued to chill, albeit alert less a convenient meal made it self known. The passing heron was far too large to get proper hold off and dispatch so it was left to go on its way.

Mother Eagle sat by herself on a larger rock not far from her Husband and Son, and kept watch from her higher vantage point. For those of you who are unfamiliar with eagles and how to tell their sex, it is quite simple much like with human beings except opposite because when it comes to eagles the females are noticeably larger and stronger than the males are. Not being in possession of a telephoto lens I had to apply the much more time consuming, traditional method of creeping and stalking to get close enough to the Matriarch to get these photos. Fortunately she did not fly off when I got close, which is more often the case than not, she was not distressed by my presence and I focused my lens on her. When I first saw her deformity I was distressed, and admittedly also a bit disappointed that this was not a perfect Eagle and was concerned as to how that would effect my photo. These thoughts were fleeting though because upon reflection it occurred to me that something about this magnificent Matriarch was very familiar to me.

You see my Great Grandmother was afflicted by the lack of her nose due to cancer and I never knew her when her face was fully intact. Despite this affliction my dear, tiny, Granny held her head high and walked and functioned fully in society, she was never ashamed and no one looked down on her. And why should they, she not only survived cancer, lived through two world wars and the great depression, raised a family, owned her own homes, out lived two husbands and both of her sons. She began work as a young girl to help provide financially for her family and was very proud of her contributions, she passed away peacefully two months before what would have been her one hundredth birthday. She was a matriarch, a real woman and not a caricature of femininity, she was truly beautiful and wise, hard working and honest, loving and kind. No one was repulsed by her, she always had a steady stream of visitors eager to hear her for a cup of tea and to share some good stories. Although I lost Grandma years ago when I was still a young woman, within that Eagle her soul remained intact and they were one if only in my mind, it was a profound moment of clarity.

That Eagle is not inferior or defective due to her affliction she is in fact superior, a survivor who wears her scar proudly like a warrior should and continues on. Neither was Grandma, she was an incredible human being and woman, and now dozens of her great, great, grandchildren all are fortunate enough to carry her precious powerful bloodline and strength that comes with it. And in that moment I was reminded of our power, the power of nature throughout our history and ancestors and sometimes we all need to be reminded of reality. Especially in these troubled times when we are being subjected to steady streams of siren songs luring us to our doom with their dehumanising messages. They condemn us for being born; for remaining natural, for being our sex, for being of our racial or cultural origins, for how we look or don’t look. They condemn us for wanting to be able live the same way in the same culture our parents and grandparents did and be able to provide for ourselves like adult humans are meant to instead of being the victims they want. Do not mind the sirens song, listen instead to the Eagles and nature, embrace your ancestors and the fact that you, like your ancestors are also a capable, natural, powerful human beings!

© TS Ni hUiginn

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