This blog is devoted to my love of horses & wild birds. It chronicles my journey through grief, healing, personal growth, and moving forward with the adventures of life. Birds, Boots, and Brews is the original work of Eloquent Editing, LLC.
As I was looking out at the vast countryside of dull brown wheat fields and dead sunflowers covered in snow and fog, I thought of my late husband and contemplated what would have been his 52nd birthday the day before. The dreary landscape fit my mood perfectly. Only one thing changed when he died – EVERYTHING. I wondered what we would have done to celebrate his birthday if he was still alive, and I thought about how different my life is now and found myself wondering if I am going the direction that I should be or if I have veered off course and should be doing something else. I am often plagued by uncertainty and life seems to be an endless search for answers.
Life seemed so much more certain when Kent was by my side and we were working towards our plans. It seemed to be that life was more about living and less about survival then. I am told that I tend to overthink things, and perhaps I do. I like the comfort of certainty. Unfortunately, as I have been told many times, there are only two certainties in life – taxes and death.
My thoughts were interrupted by movement in the air and the realization that a Bald Eagle had quietly entered my space and was flying low overhead. It was magnificent! Its dark brown wings filled the sky around me, spread out wide as it smoothly glided over the ground below, sharply watching for its prey. This particular Bald Eagle was larger than others I have seen in the area. I watched it maneuver over the fields, flying high then swooping low, always prepared to dive for its meal.
As I watched the Bald Eagle go about its business, one word
came to mind. Steadfast. The Bald Eagle is always steadfast in its quest for existence.
It knows what it has to do and goes about its business for daily life. I
sincerely doubt the Bald Eagle overthinks what it has to do and questions every
aspect of its life. It knows, instinctively, what to do and why and remains
steadfast in the task of doing so.
Why do I struggle to do this in my own life? I often question my instincts and it leads to disastrous results. It is often said that a person should listen to their gut and trust their own intuition. When you stop and think about it, self-trust is a must. I know that part of this is not having my husband here to help guide me and be the voice of reason when it is needed. But the biggest factor is that I tend to get in my own way, not trusting my own ability to be steadfast.
I found myself thinking about the Bald Eagle long after it had flown away and was no longer in sight. The Bald Eagle was going about its life, knowing what it had to do, trusting the instincts given to it by nature.
Fresh air and a change of scenery was calling out to us. I was
longing to look to the sky and see a hawk or an eagle overhead, while my dad
just wanted to be outside. There had been far too much “together” time in the
confined spaces of my house, and although it was rather blustery outside and
the cold air felt like it might snow, me and my dad loaded up in his truck – a
loud, white dodge diesel pick-up that he has named “Bob” – and headed down the
road. Dad turned right as we left the neighborhood, so I knew we were not going
to town. He was heading out to the countryside to enjoy the sight of farmland
and small, rolling hills. We had no destination in mind. For several minutes,
there was nothing but the sound of Bob’s loud engine as we drove away from the
house. Eventually, we found ourselves bouncing along on a dirt road.
As we rambled down the dirt road, the scenery was changing,
and I loved it. I felt myself relaxing as we drove along, something that was
much needed. I had just survived the holiday season, something that has been
challenging since the passing of my husband. Although it was winter, you could
tell we were driving through farmland. We were surrounded by fields planted for
winter wheat and a few fields with the remnants of sunflowers. Although they
were dark, slumped over, and starting to crumble, a far cry from their bright yellow
glory months before, they still held an allure that kept me looking at them. I really liked the area. Something about it
felt like home to me. I had spotted a few Harris Hawks overhead, flying free,
their sharp, watchful eyes on the lookout for prey below.
I finally broke the silence with my dad. “You know, there are
a few nice-looking horse properties for sale out this way.” I had casually started
looking on the internet at new places to live and had been doing so for a few
weeks. With my husband gone, I simply couldn’t afford the house we were living
in, and it was too large and difficult for me to maintain by myself. I also
wanted something with more acreage for the horses and far fewer neighbors. And
the house was filled with my husband. Endless memories of him, our marriage,
and everything we had shared. It was also a painful reminder of everything I
had lost. Not that memories shouldn’t be present in a home, but having a memory
around every corner and in every room was proving difficult to handle
emotionally and it wasn’t helping me move forward. There were also some very traumatizing
memories related to his passing and his funeral service in the house that I
wanted – and needed – to stop reliving.
Dad responded to my comment with, “Get some addresses and
we’ll do a drive by on a few.” I took out my phone and did as he instructed. A
few minutes later, we were driving by a place that had potential, but something
about it didn’t feel right. We drove on to another place a few miles away. A
nice place, but the barn area looked run-down and the fencing was dreadful. I
could envision my horses running through the fencing and being loose on the
prairie there. Nothing like trying to run after a champion thoroughbred
sprinter in a wide-open space. No! Running along behind has never been my
thing. Not my future home. Moments later, we were driving on to the next one.
It was a new build. The house looked wonderful from the outside, but there were
neighbors close by and no fencing. The place across the street had pigeons
sitting on the fence posts and the yard looked like it should be on an episode
of the tv show “Hoarders.” Dad vetoed it immediately.
We continued down the road. As we were driving along, a large
bird with a wide, dark brown wing span swooped directly in front of the truck then
veered off to the right. Another bird swooped in behind it, and the pair flew
together, just ahead of the truck. “Dad, look at the eagles!” I exclaimed. It
was a pair of big, beautiful bald eagles, and they looked magnificent. They
flew alongside the road, gliding through the air in front of us as if they were
guiding us to our destination. We watched them in awe as we drove along,
marveling at their size and beauty. The pair eventually flew upward and landed
on a power pole. Below the power pole was a real estate sign for a property
that was for sale.
Eagles have tremendous significance for me. If you read one of
my first blog posts, you know that the Bald Eagle was my unicorn, the elusive
creature that cannot be captured. For the longest time, it was the one bird that
was too elusive for me to photograph. I could never take a decent picture, and
it was a source of amusement for me and my late husband. He teased me endlessly
about my quest to take a good photograph of a Bald Eagle. I took out my cell
phone and snapped a picture. Although it was starting to snow lightly, the picture
turned out perfectly. I couldn’t believe it. I finally captured a Bald Eagle –
and it was with my cell phone! I looked to the sky and told my husband thank
you. I cannot explain what I felt at that moment, but I knew my husband was
My thoughts were interrupted by my dad. “Let’s check out this
place for sale.” He turned the truck onto a small dirt road directly in front
of the power pole the eagles had landed on, and we headed towards the place for
sale. We had to drive about a quarter of a mile to get to the house. I couldn’t
stop thinking about the eagles and how they had guided us. I knew in that
moment my husband was with us, and I couldn’t help but feel he was behind the
steering wheel of this journey, especially when the eagles followed us to the
house and circled overhead as we drove around.
As we pulled up to the house, my heart sped up. It was
perfect! It was a quaint, lovely ranch house with columns on the porch and a
beautiful wood front door. It fit the picture I had always had in my mind of a
perfect “ranch” house. The place was lovely. It even had a wheat field! There
was plenty of space for the horses. I would have to build the appropriate
fencing, but I could see me and my herd living there. I loved it, and I had not
even seen the inside of the house yet.
We called the numbers of the real estate agent on the sign and
left messages. Since we couldn’t get a hold of the agent to see the house, we
decided to go grab a much-needed late lunch. We had been driving for hours at
this point, and we were both ready to eat. We weren’t far from the town of
Hudson and one of our favorite restaurants, so we headed that direction. The
eagles were still there as we drove away, circling overhead as if to guard and
watch over the property. We also noticed a herd of mule deer in one of the
nearby wheat fields. This area was definitely feeling like home!
Not long after we ordered lunch, I received a call. It was
from a real estate agent who works for the agent that had the house listed. The
listing agent was out of town, so this agent was filling in for her. We made
plans to meet the agent and see the house in 2 hours. Another showing was
scheduled right before ours, so we had to wait. I was nervous because a snow
storm was moving in and I hate being out and about on snowy roads, but my
desire to see the house far outweighed my desire to be off the roads and out of
the snow. The eagles were calling me.
After our late lunch, we slowly headed towards the property. As
we drove there, we observed the herd of deer not far from where we had left them.
The Bald Eagles greeted us again near the power pole, flying next to the truck,
almost as though they were welcoming us and guiding us back in. We stopped at
the corner near the power pole and waited a few minutes, as we could see the
other people still had not finished their showing. The eagles swooped and flew
around, surveying one of the wheat fields for prey. I was struck by their raw
power and incredible beauty as they flew in the lightly falling snow. Darkness
was setting in.
At last, we saw a vehicle leaving the property and my phone
rang. It was the real estate agent telling us we could head to the house for
the showing. As we pulled in the driveway of the house, I could hardly contain
my excitement. The house was even better than I had remembered.
Walking up to the beautiful front door, I couldn’t help but
think I was home. As the door opened and I walked in, I knew instantly I was in
my future home. It was perfect! The
living room, dining area, and kitchen had a warm, inviting, open feel and it
suited me. Everything about the house was exactly what I wanted. I couldn’t
have designed it better myself. I made an offer that night and the rest is
history. It is my home.
In addition to the beautiful home, I was struck by the women I
met there that night. The owner of the property was present, and as it turned
out, she was also at a crossroads in her life where she had to make changes and
move forward somehow. Selling the place was part of moving on for her, although
it was very hard for her to do. Hopefully she has been able to move forward in
a positive light and find the happiness she deserves.
The real estate agent, Tabatha, became one of my very best
friends. In conversation that night, I poured out my heart to her about the
tragic crash that had taken my husband’s life and my need to move forward in a
different environment and start anew. Tabatha told me about the passing of her
sister years before, also at the hands of an impaired driver. We had an
immediate bond, and to this day, I am blessed to call her a best friend and
confidant. It is amazing how alike we are and how much we have in common. I am
so grateful I have her and her family in my life now. I cannot help but think
that my husband and the eagles guided me to a friendship I know I will have for
the rest of my life.
When I stop to think about that day, I find it amazing that a
simple drive changed my life. It led me to new friends, a new version of home,
and a new path in life. When I see eagles now, I think of my husband and wonder
what he is trying to show me or where he is trying to guide me. I often see the
Bald Eagles in my yard or flying overhead, and I am thankful to them for
showing me that I am, indeed, being watched over from above. And as with most
eagles, they have proven challenging to photograph, although I have gotten
lucky a few times.
Most of all, I am grateful to my late husband and the Bald Eagles for showing me the way home.
Eagles are fascinating, powerful creatures that fly through my imagination and grasp the hands of time for me. When I see an eagle, its as though everything around me comes to a standstill except for the presence of the majestic bird I am blessed to be seeing.
As an amateur photographer, I spent years pursuing bald eagles, struggling to catch a glimpse let alone a decent photograph. It is a well-known fact that I have the world’s largest collection of blurry eagle photographs known to man. This is rather pathetic when you consider the fact that I live within ten miles of one of the largest bald eagle nesting grounds within the state of Colorado.
The fact that I could never capture a decent photograph of an eagle was not lost on my late husband. He used to laugh at my antics and adventures to photograph the ever-elusive eagle. One incident will forever stand out in my mind.
It was a particularly blustery day in Brighton, Colorado. I happened to have a day off from work in the middle of the week, and I was determined to make the most of it. I laced up my hiking boots, grabbed my coat and camera, and headed to Barr Lake in pursuit of the elusive bald eagle. I was determined that this would be the day my quest for an eagle picture would end.
Barr Lake is a small lake situated not far off Interstate 76. There is an 8.8-mile trail that circles the lake, and there are some nice spots along the way that are ideal for bird watching. And, Barr Lake is known as one of the largest eagle nesting grounds in Colorado.
My hike around the lake began in a rather non-descript manner. I noticed a few sparrows and pigeons as I set out and nothing more for what seemed like a rather long time. Not exactly the bird watching adventure I had been hoping for. Finally, a small gaggle of Canadian Geese came across my path, and eventually, a Northern Flicker Woodpecker. Things were looking up! My hopes soared as I looked to the sky and could see an eagle soaring in the distance. It was too far away to photograph, but there was no mistaking its magnificent wing span as it soared high above.
I continued walking. My feet were starting to twinge with a bit of pain. Unfortunately, my hiking boots were relatively new, and my feet were starting to feel it. “Carry on!” I told myself. I was so determined to photograph an eagle that pain be damned! This pursuit was ending today.
After walking for endless miles, or at least what felt like it, I arrived at the area where eagles could be seen and photographed. Allegedly. I had arrived at the area where a pair of bald eagles are known to nest, but naturally, the nest was empty and camping out there for 2 hours produced no results.
My quest to photograph an eagle was, in fact, a rather miserable experience in the end. The weather gradually deteriorated; the cold wind whipped my face. Dirt found its way into my contact lenses, and my feet were beyond painful. I had blisters above my big toe on both feet as well as my heels, and the bottom of both feet were screaming in agony. Defeated, I finally made my way back to my car and put my camera back in its case. I placed my camera behind the driver’s seat and headed home, blasting the heater as I drove.
As I pulled into my drive way, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There, perched on a fence post in my yard, was the most spectacular bald eagle I had ever seen! At that moment, a string of expletives was going through my mind, many of which I cannot write down here. Let’s suffice it to say that my frustration and disbelief was at an all time high. Nothing like marching around an eagle nesting area to no avail, only to have one show up in your own yard!
By the time I got out of my car, got my camera out of its case and attached the action lens, the eagle was in the air, flying away at rapid speed. My hands were shaking, and I was fumbling with my camera. This was it! My opportunity to get the picture I had been longing for all day! I zoomed in on the magnificent bird as much as I could. I was snapping pictures furiously, praying to get a decent shot. It was not meant to be. I managed to capture another series of “blurry eagle at a distance” pictures.
After this incident, my husband declared the Bald Eagle to be my unicorn, the mythical creature that could never be captured. And my husband loved to joke about it! He never failed to remind me of my quest for eagles and some of the funny adventures that ensued as part of this pursuit.
When I see an eagle, I always think of my husband and often find myself saying hello. My husband is much like an eagle to me now; elusive but ever present. Like an eagle, he is soaring free, released from the binds, ties, pressures, and struggles of every day life that we all endure daily. He may not be here physically, but he is definitely present.
"Birds, Boots, and Brews ~ Volume 1" is now on Amazon! ISBN-13: 978-1799235361. If you like the pictures from this site, check out our stores on Redbubble and ETSY - BirdsBootsandBrews. Dismiss