The Steadfast Bald Eagle

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.

It’s time to listen to the steadfast Bald Eagle.

~ Sandy

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Finding Home

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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 with me.

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.

One of the Bald Eagles I have been blessed to see and photograph in my yard

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.

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