A Beautiful Delicate Dance

A highway follows the curves of the lake, a windy road ebbs and flows. Our destination lies ahead. Tires slide into an empty parking space in an almost vacant lot that dead-ends: NO OUTLET. Slip the gear shift to PARK. Unload. Jackets pulled over hoodies: layered. Gloved hands. White clouds drop chilled rain upon us. A Golden hides in the top of a short, shallow Ponderosa. We hike the familiar paved path and see a Bald, backlit with the gaze of the bright morning sun; its form: an opaque object — a stunning silhouette — against a winter's firmament. I raise my glass and adjust the settings. Blur the edges. Focus. A bokeh image turns sharp. [CLICK] Digitally capturing an analog world.

Across the bay, fortune hunters, armed with tripod and expensive lens, line a snowless beach; the quiet lapping of a lake's water washes upon frozen rocks. The statue of a photographer, stands covered in an eerie white, decorated in raindrops.

Chasing the incline to a higher vantage point, we continue up the trail, all the while massive coniferous trees reach for invisible stars hidden by sunlight, fall short, and graze the heavens. The curve of the path allows us to continue up the backside, then off pavement onto an aisle of leaf, dirt, root, and rock. The decline is an easy stride. A unique cry breaks the silence.

Rocky beach; a lazy Lake Coeur d'Alene ripples around. Fish cadavers adorn hard rock. Dying salmon. Hungry eagles. The scent of decaying death and flesh remains are evident, but minimal.

The jagged skyline of North Idaho etches the expanding vault. Our eyes peer through pine and branch, treetops, and surrounding sky. Camouflaged. Eagles fly, scoop, and feed — “Is it at your command that the eagle rises to the heights to make its nest? It lives on the cliffs, making its home on a distant, rocky crag. From there it hunts its prey, keeping watch with piercing eyes.” [Job 39:27-29] We inspect and learn; talk and enjoy our family's company. Experiences. Memories.

As we make our way back to the lot, its spaces filled by more travelers, I overhear a family of onlookers mocking the same majestic bird that greeted us. "What happened to your hair?", the father chides. The mother replies with a "I think it's a turkey vulture." I shout from across the sea of black pavement, "It's a Golden." They look at each other, then shout back at me, "Oh, thanks."

We load back up, slide from PARK to GEAR and steer into the opposite direction.

Feasting, the eagles live as salmon die; there is a beauty in this delicate dance of death, and life.

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