Friday, December 25, 2009


It is a day of threes this Christmas of 2009. As I get ready to leave for the wildlife center Christmas morning we are still fogged in, three days in a row. I like it, you can look right at the sun and not see it, only when I get a quarter mile down the road does the orb show itself while still underneath the veil.
Down the road and I see them, the three wise men, others call them crows. They are sitting side by side on a lamp post by a traffic light. I drive underneath and say “hi my brothers, stay safe.” Driving down the highway of death not an eagle in sight, they should be here somewhere but I don’t have that feeling of knowing I will see eagle brother here and that’s fine. I will see them elsewhere. Off to my right three starlings sitting on wire as I drive by. I pass a redtail hawk, I wish him happy hunting and as always to the wild ones I ask for grandfather to protect.
As I rise up from the Snoqualmie river valley the sky shows itself sapphire blue with snow capped mountains surrounding me. The joy of this day shines bright. I take the side roads to Sarvey, no use for the main roads as they are chocked with---people. As I wind down the river road that runs helter skelter, sand bars come and go yet no eagles and still no feeling they should be there. It is rare when I am wrong in anticipating the great hunters of the heavens. I round a corner and there at eye level is another redtail hawk, I can feel something coming.
I get to Sarvey Wildlife Center, drive up the hill---my friend is on her perch watching me. I wave to her. As I get out of my truck I look up---there in a 200 foot plus douglas fir is a huge female bald eagle surveying her domain. “Hey little sister good to see you.”
I head inside and get the update about Freedom. In this very cold weather she hasn’t eaten for three days, then Christmas eve day she breaks a blood feather. The blood splatter on her perch was noticed and she was brought inside to be checked. I get the word Christmas Eve, she’s fine. The next morning she ate her rat plus 350 mgs of beef heart. I go out to her flight and notice a rat tail, just the tail next to a rock. I laugh---it looks like the rock actually has a tail. I jess her up as she begins to tell all about the mean things ‘those’ people did to her. I feel her crop, she must have eaten a baseball. No turkey leg today.
We head out of her flight to the pond below. The ground is frozen, all the shrubs are hugging the ground. They crunch underfoot as we walk. When we arrive at the mostly frozen pond I see the sheared off top of the willow tree from last Christmas poking out of the middle. The water freezes and melts around it; the willow will be in that same spot for years to come, a sentinel in the water. The constant chatter of Freedom is music to me; the cold wraps itself around us. Her head jerks right and I look up---the eagles are coming, a giant female flies overhead, I smile. A few minutes later another cruises overhead with an immature one minutes behind. Three.
I look down as the elongated rays of the just-past Solstice sun shines through the bones of hibernating trees and casts its rays on the frozen stalks we stand on. Miniature diamonds glisten in the soft brilliance. I am transfixed by the sheer beauty of this pagan morning.
A little voice inside is coaxing me to turn around. I listen and do as it says. Not more than 20 feet away a devastating six point buck stares at me. He is behind the tree that has the ‘y’ trunk, peeking at us. He is magnificent. We have met before but never this close. He shows caution but doesn’t move away. This is his trail he travels to meet his girl friend Cinnamon, our resident doe.
I move slowly to the side, crunching ice crystals under my boots. He still doesn’t run as I offer him the path. He moves forward, and then backs up not quite sure about us. We are a little too close for him. His tawny hide with patch of ice white on his chest is breathtaking but that’s not what’s mesmerizing me, it was his patch of midnight black fur on his head. Looks almost like a toupee.
The stag walks a parallel line in front of us as he makes his way to the fence surrounding the deer enclosure. I watch, knowing what is coming. He heads towards us, does a 180 and heads back the way he came, stopping about thirty feet away and with the grace no human could ever hope to have, he glides over a six foot fence. clearing it by at least a foot and lands as a feather would land, not a sound, not a twitched muscle, nothing but pure grace. My flesh is crawling with goose bumps, I want to know what he knows.
A call cuts through the silence, another male farther back in the woods bellows. My friend saunters over to his female companion, they nuzzle a little and then he is into the important stuff, food. As I am watching him my focus retracts and for the first time I notice a bold Rufous sided towhee at arm’s length on the branches in front of me.
The day starts to wind down and I take Freedom back to her flight. I take her jesses off and we are done.
On the drive home I am obsessed with threes---what does it mean? Maybe nothing for I have not seen three redtail hawks, only two. All the way I scan for one more, just one more---nothing. Back to civilization and I think maybe it was me wishing for the threes. I look to my left as I approach my town and there she is---the third redtail.
I say to grandfather “Mitakuye Oyasin’