I love this time of year in the Northwest, when spring's batteries are new and winter is decomposing. After two months of driving to and from work in the dark, it is like waking up after being comatose. And this morning made it all worthwhile.
Each commute brings exciting adventure. Flying past the meadow of sheep, I glance over to see if there are any babies yet. Then on past the horse pasture, where more babies could frolic soon. Then comes the field of cattle, but no babies yet. Then the homeward stretch where deer, bear, raccoons and bobcats scuttle across the road and coyotes roam among the hundred foot Douglas firs. Around each corner could be another breathtaking view of fabulous wildlife.
This morning, coming down out of the hills, just before reaching the flatlands, two birds huddled in a tall tree near a farmhouse set back from the road. As I flew past, the white heads flashed in the dawning light. I slammed on the brakes, hung a U-turn, crept back up the road and pulled into the long, private driveway as far as the closed gates. I bent over, fished my camera up from the floorboards, bit down on my lower lip while I wrestled it out of its case and eased the door open. My arm sneaked out and aimed the camera at the tree and just when I had a great shot, and pushed down on the button, a soft whirring sounded as the camera closed itself up and went dark.
Dang it. They were watching me.
With shaking hands and shallow breaths I snatched up the little case, and yanked out the extra batteries, fought to get the little door to open in a panic. I dumped out the old ones and jammed in the new and glanced up. They were still there. Slowly I eased my arm out again and aimed the camera, careful not to disturb them, and pushed the button down.
Photograph by Melanie Sherman "Bald Eagles"
Twice this week, at lunch time, I've seen bald eagles, but this was my first spotting in the morning and certainly the closest I've ever been. Yesterday afternoon I saw a crane in the field these birds are overlooking. I can barely wait to discover something new tomorrow.
And, yes, I know I should be watching the road.