I’m convinced that the bald eagle is somewhat embarrassed by the company he keeps. At least a half dozen times throughout the winter I’ve observed a road kill deer being feasted on by a battalion of ravens, and high above the heads of the raucous crowd is the majestic head of the eagle. All seem to be fine with their tablemates as they peck and claw their way through the plentiful harvest.
I have attempted to photograph this unlikely pairing, but each time, the eagle hightails it. I even tried taking the photo out the window (while someone else was driving, of course) and only captured my finger and the blurry passing landscape.
The eagle and the raven are two majestic birds common in the Pacific Northwest and entwined in a myth of the first peoples. In the myth, the eagle and raven represent two halves of a whole. On the dominant right side is the eagle, a respected noble bird that leads by example, walking the straight path. On the opposite side is the raven, a troubled anti-hero, who steals, lusts, tricks and changes identity. As the myth goes, both figures are needed for a healthy society. Without eagle, there is no example for humans to live life. Without raven, there is no myth. Without myth, there is no art, imagination or color.
So, eagle, it’s okay to be seen dining with your fine-feathered friends. Just let me take a picture one time!
I always appreciate hearing from readers who are struck by a column that I wrote. Here are a few to share from the mailbag.
Tim Hall (Anacortes/Mazama), a retired research scientist, wrote about the “grand surprise” of seeing the new road sign of Saw Whet Lane pictured in the Methow Valley News. Tim and his wife Karen built their end-of-the-lane 15 years ago and always described its location to visitors as located on the “unnamed frontage road.” They tackled the project of giving the road a name as required by county code, which took several months. With approval of the other property owners for the new name, the Halls described the accomplishment as “kind of exciting getting to name a road!”
Patti Ahlfs had a serendipitous story to tell relating to two of my columns: the garden bubbles at Twisp Terrace and the new Christmas puppy. Patti wrote that she had been meaning to write a note to me for almost two months regarding the new puppy story. She read in my column about the puppy-training book written by the Monks of New Skete and, because she also had a new puppy coming in May to join her older dog Luna, she decided a refresher course about successfully training dogs made sense.
She ordered the book “How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend” by the monks and waited and waited for it to arrive. Finally, in early February a package arrived with a return address in Korea. Patti relays, “I questioned Nick as to what he had ordered from Korea. Blank look. So, I opened the package and there it was — my book from the Monks of New Skete written in Korean! My initial reaction was I thought those monks were from upstate New York. Boy did I screw up!” Patti did find the book in English, and we both got a good laugh out of the Korean story.
The second part of Patti’s story was the March 4 dinner at Twisp Terrace. As my husband and I were there celebrating our anniversary, she and her husband were also there for a “Hallelujah, we’re vaccinated celebration.” Serendipity: a reminder to write me about the puppy book.
Finally, Jim McDonald wrote about the pileated woodpecker story, which brought back several memories to him. The first was about their young son who had heard his parents talking about the pileated woodpecker they had seen by their home in Edelweiss. Jim says, “When he spotted one, he described it as a ‘humiliated’ woodpecker — a description we have never forgotten.”
Jim also spoke of another pecking bird — the flicker — drumming on the fireplace cap rather than a more sound-deadening tree trunk. The noise would reverberate throughout their Bremerton house, sending their tough little Schnauzer into a hiding, shivering fit. Currently, in Edelweiss the flickers have taken to “drumming” on metal roofs, so they and neighbors are “enjoying the serenade.”
Since the bald eagle would not acquiesce to being photographed, I’ve submitted the skinny, skinny-ski skier on the Base Camp Trail bidding adieu to a long, lovely ski season.