In the waning days of this past summer, I had been waiting for a visit from my son one long afternoon and for the third time in as many quarter hours went to the front door to look out to see if I could spot him coming down the driveway. The view was empty, the same as before. I opened the door anyway almost as if this action would encourage his arrival and something made me pause on the the threshold before closing the door. I didn't see or hear anything specific or even unusual, but there was a feeling I got that something was different or out of place. It was as if the air has been vacuumed away from the front of the house. I cannot explain it, but I really felt the change.
My first thought was that something was being very still and trying to hide in fear near the garden or beneath the leaves of the flowers. I scanned the front yard for an animal in the garden and scanned the outside of the fence for deer, but saw no movement or odd shape.
I gently stepped further onto my porch and just at that very second a large adult bald eagle flew across my front yard only twenty feet in the air and just 10 yards in front of me. He was gliding slowly and smoothly into the trees in the ravine on the other side. I caught my breath as I watched him disappear into the leaves in total silence. It was as if he was a ghost or a shadow of a great bird.
In the mid-1800's eagle watching was common in this area. Hunting, pesticides and habitat destruction had resulted in the loss of most of the bald eagles until decades of restoration work in the mid 1900's was implemented so that these dramatic birds of prey could return to safe roosting sites. If bald eagles now fly across my front lawn in such a magnificent ballet, I think we are succeeding. (Moment of truth: this photo was taken at another time and in another place.)