Swept Away

April 10, 2011

Number 1 chick clambers about the nest, stretching his territory to the very edge of the inner nest, cuddles up to most recent prey, chirping, while mama fluffs and mends the nest. Quite vocal by now, he flaps his feeble winglet on top of the flesh and fur of his dinner, as if pointing, cheeping, pointing, this, now, here. Rudimentary and so far ineffectual communication. She ignores his please to continue refining her nest, tucking in feathers from this morning’s blackbird, tweaking twigs, pulling out the deadest prey that’s fallen, or that the chicks have kicked, into the nest.

I think the eagles had a hard night. I was pleased to see everything and everyone in place this morning. Severe thunderstorms were on track to slam into the eagle tree as I headed for bed, about midnight eagle time. It looked calm, but radar showed light rain with ahuge red core approaching from the west, and the county under a tornado warning. I feared a tornado even when I wrote my last fretful entry about the chick thrown out of the nest. Bad things can happen. Though seemingly strong and secure, this eagle family is a fragile organism. So many things can go wrong it’s a wonder they aren’t extinct.

A tornado, for example. I went to sleep praying away visions of the cottonwood uprooted or broken in half, the nest, the parent, the chicks, (precious fragile creatures we’ve all grown so fond of) whisked off the tree in a 4F tornado, all occupants flung far apart. The chicks, then, dying if they weren’t already dead and broken, the parents injured or dead, the cozy struggle of the past months nullified.

From there it’s not much of a leap to the northeastern provinces of Japan, where 12,000 humans were swept away by a giant wave, wind of the earth and ocean. Extrapolating the agony I’d feel for the eagle family if their lives were dashed by a natural disaster, calculate the unbearable strife a compassionate person might feel in the wake of that tidal wave. The only way to process that kind of suffering is to keep absorbing it and ignore it, more and more, after awhile. It goes on. In the first week it held my undivided attention, bearing witness to and praying for the lives involved, not just human. Think of the dogs! Of the birds in the trees. All the lives swept away, so suddenly.

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