Friday, December 30, 2016

More Lessons from Nesting Eagles



I went to Physical Therapy where my therapist seems to feel it is time to stretch me further than my frozen shoulder thinks is possible. I know she wants what is best for me, but it sure doesn't always feel that way. I was pretty achy when I left therapy. I usually chat with her the whole time to keep my mind off of how much it HURTS.

So I told her for the past three days I have been glued to my computer watching an eagle sit on her eggs.

"I think you need your granddog back," she told me. ( I had a glorious Christmas week dogsitting my gorgeous husky granddog, Ragnar and thus spent a lot of our sessions telling her about him.)
"I know...but really, it is surprisingly fascinating. The first egg was supposed to hatch Tuesday, so I thought I'd devote a half hour to watching..."
"And half an hour became three days?" my PT said, looking askance at me.
"Right. I mean, after I'd invested all that time, how could I give up now? I'm going to be really upset if the eaglet hatches while I am here. OUCH!"

Anyway, the eaglet is still in its egg. I spent the entire day with a split screen on my computer so I could edit my book while watching Harriet, the mama eagle on the live cam. I don't want you to think I was doing NOTHING but watching an egg all day.

The egg definitely has a crack in it, but the chick doesn't seem in any hurry to expand that crack. The crack appeared around 2 p.m. yesterday. I was hesitant to even go on my afternoon walk. Then I researched how long it takes an eaglet to finally fully hatch. It can take a full day.

I am here to tell you they are wrong, unless by full day they mean literally 24 hours. I instantly switched to my live stream eagle cam on my computer as soon as I awoke this morning at 6 a.m.  The mama eagle had her head tucked in her back feathers sound asleep. We all know if she had a new baby, she would NOT be sleeping. She awoke at 6:30, in no big hurry to check her egg. She preened a little, but remained sitting quietly on her eggs despite how eager I was to get a close up of the hatching egg. Then she went back to sleep!!!! She awoke again around 6:45, and began calling to daddy eagle to come take his turn on the nest.

My sister, Amy is similarly entranced. We texted back and forth all day yesterday.
"The eagle just stood up!"
"Is the egg cracked?"
"YES!!!!"
"Oh no, I have to go out with my daughter and grandkids...I'm going to miss it."
"I'll text you if it looks like the eaglet is coming."

There was already one heartbreaking moment. When the mama eagle gets weary of sitting on her eggs, she calls to the daddy eagle. His name is M15, denoting he bonded with Harriet in 2015 after the death of her first love, Ozzie. Anyway, Harriet screeched several times, looking around. This is the cue for M15 to swoop in and relieve her so she can cool off, stretch her wings, get a drink, maybe a quick trip to the hair dresser. (Oh wait, no, she's bald...)

However, she screeched several times. No M15! Several minutes passed and she stood up. The camera zoomed on the eggs. The crack was seen for the first time, and it was slowly widening. Harriet had been calling M15 to tell him their baby was coming!

He didn't show up. She nestled back on the eggs. At least an hour or so passed before M15 arrived. Harriet didn't appear to bear a grudge. She quickly flew off as M15 settled on the eggs.

I looked very carefully to see if I could detect any anger from Harriet. I can tell you I would have been livid. However, there was not a shred of rancor, unless eagle anger is much subtler than my own. While she was waiting so patiently for M15, I wondered what was going through her mind. Did she assume the best? Perhaps he was out of sound range, trying to catch her a lovely dinner. Perhaps he was chasing a predator from the nest. Maybe he was gathering more soft stuffing to pad the new babies' crib.

In sharp contrast, my response to poor Harriet calling M15 to no avail was: what a deadbeat eagle dad.



Interestingly, my Bible reading yesterday included Proverbs 31, about the "noble wife." I don't love reading this one, because I am so ashamed of how ignoble I am in comparison. However, as I read the passage, I thought of Harriet and her quiet acceptance of her mate though he did not immediately provide what she needed. She was obeying a higher power. (In her case, instinct...in my case, God.) She would not abandon her nest and her own responsibilities, but she would not berate her mate for not meeting his.

During the extended time when she sat silently after calling him, and he did not appear, I wondered what would happen if he had died? Would she leave the nest at all? Would she herself die of hunger and thirst before she would abandon her duty to hatch her eggs? I read that sometimes the female is so reluctant to leave her eggs or her young that the male will push her off the nest to insist she take a break and go find herself a nice seafood buffet.

All these thoughts made my eagle watching a deeply spiritual and moral adventure. As I pondered the faithful Harriet's behavior towards her mate and her babies, I thought of how I could improve as a mother and a wife.
******

Proverbs 31: Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.


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