In the midst of a holiday season that sprinkled warmth and joy with pandemical particulates in each of our peripheral visions…
Two friends spotted a certain bird, in a certain place.
I was up and out of my chair in one instant, hollering to JoHn that I was leaving in the next, and out the door by instant number three, tucked into a very chilly Gronk* and – well, I won’t admit to speeding – heading down the road. I soon found myself behind a car containing occupants clearly wedded to the concept of the journey being more important than the destination, and I was all kinds of “Vaminos children!”
I wasn’t culturally appropriating, I was quoting Joaquin Phoenix’s character from the movie Signs (to be fair, he may have actually been culturally appropriating but the movie was made years ago before that was really a… oh never mind).
As I came to the area where the bird was seen a mere half hour before, I tapped the brakes and slowed to a crawl. There were no other cars on the road at that point, so I had all the time in the world to scan…
The taller rocks and outcroppings near the shore.
Snowy Owls are birds of the arctic tundra. They love a high spot with a wide open view when it comes to hunting… or just to appear vastly superior to the rest of us plebs (which they do quite well).
I missed her – she is a young female – in my first pass, but I decided to turn back and, suddenly, there she was (kapow!).
I parked quietly, a distance away and eased my camera from the seat beside me, pinching the cap from my longest lens and leaving it behind.
I was quiet…
Respectful of her space, her time.
And for about twenty minutes, in the freezing cold of a late Maine afternoon by a wintry sea, I forgot about fear… and viruses… and making sense of so much that feels less understandable than usual.
I stood alone in the world with a being I never thought I’d see, free, in a place she’d chosen on her own, to live and be.
Twice, through my lens, I saw her train her gorgeous amber eyes on me, and then turn away with seeming indifference. Both times, my breath caught in my throat, and I found myself grinning at having become completely undone in the presence of true celebrity.
I made my way back to Gronk as the sun bowed and exited, inching its way back to a comfortable resting spot just behind the horizon.
Driving home, I existed within a haze of grace – the ‘courteous goodwill’ kind, not the ‘simple elegance of refinement of movement’ kind – and gratitude, yet on one thing I had clarity.
It is not lost on me that the smallest, unexpected happenings and happenstances have the power to profoundly shift our frames of mind.
Sometimes, this shift lasts for twenty minutes.
But, every so often, it lasts for… like…
Thanks for readin’ (and thanks for texting this afternoon, Alex!)
*Gronk is the name for my truck. He was named for Rob Gronkowski, the now former New England Patriot, who was both a power to be reckoned with, and a heck of a lot of fun.
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