Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, Betsy had me grilling some chickens, and whilst I was involved in that, a fast-moving front blew through, a lot quicker than the TV weatherman had forecast. There were just a few scattered raindrops, then the wind switched around out of the north northwest, and picked up to 25 or 30 knots. I retreated to the screen porch, just going out every 15 minutes or so to turn and season the chicken breasts.
As I walked out the screen door onto the patio, I caught a movement up above the pecan tree that towers over The Store, our guest house, which used to serve as the old Brownspur commissary store. I glanced up, and froze. Just above the height of that tree, and a few feet over toward the Mammy Grudge, hung a hawk. He had his wings spread but was not flapping or gliding with them; he had evidently found some kind of an air pocket, or air foil maybe (I don’t know what that is, but my son-in-law is a pilot, and I’ve heard him say it, and it sounds cool) and was just flatout standing still in the air, 75 or 100 feet up. I watched him for several minutes, and he never moved a feather, that I could tell, nor did he drift backwards atall, in the face of a high wind. Awesome!
But as I watched, here came another movement above the trees on the Mammy Grudge ditchbanks, approaching the hawk from behind – a full-grown bald eagle! We’ve seen him before out here; matter of fact, he almost got to be the Guest of Honor at our last Thanksgiving Dinner, by coasting in low just above the ground and flaring up to land in a cottonwood not 50 yards from my deer stand. I had not seen a deer, but the prospect of an admittedly illegal wild turkey for the holidays made me ease my 30/06 up. Even after I realized it was an eagle, I still had to wonder briefly if eagles are white meat, like hawks and owls?
Anyhoo, this eagle had survived deer season, and had showed off for me and Betsy on the balcony several times, so we know he lives close by. Now he was apparently coming to hover with that hawk, over The Store. He flapped his great wings very slowly, and it almost seemed like he was sneaking up on the hawk. Do eagles know that hawks are white meat too?
But when the bigger bird was maybe four feet behind the hawk and still moving, the smaller predator sensed him, obviously, for he suddenly folded one wing, swooped downward in a starboard turn, and grabbed a piece of that 30-knot breeze to scoot back across the Mammy Grudge. If the eagle was stalking his supper, he was out of luck.
He was not after supper. Apparently all he wanted was that particular magic spot that the hawk had found, for he continued to move forward until he was exactly where the hawk had been hovering – I mean, I’d been watching for five minutes now! That big black bird got to the exact spot, then froze in the air, wings spread, but he never flapped again. Only thing he did differently than his smaller buddy was, he spread his wingtip feathers out, but then just became motionless – yet he never moved backwards with the wind atall. How do they do that?
Awesomer! On a Sunday afternoon, God was showing me something new again – two great birds who just hung suspended, wings spread but not flapping nor gliding in the air currents. There seemed to be just this little invisible space (to my eye, anyway) up there above The Store pecan tree where nothing was moving, in a 30-knot wind that was getting stronger.
I watched until I got scared that the chickens might get a little too brown, then when I moved toward the grill, the eagle saw me, dipped a wing, and departed off across the Mammy Grudge. Doggone, I hated to interrupt his afternoon flight!
Ever wish you had wings? There’s a song we’ve done in the Kairos Prison Ministry on a weekend with juvenile offenders: “I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky….” And there’s another one which sings: “God will raise you up on eagle’s wings, bear you on the breath of dawn….” Been there; seen that!