I saw Phil rush twice. Herons do that. Not slow. Still. Steady. Ready. They do what the ecosystem needs. The life force of a lake is calm. The Heron is it’s guardian. The burden is a heavy quiet kingdom. The price is melancholy. Phil broods.
His beak shot vertical! Then snapped East. North. South. Froze like a laser pointer on an overcast sky-colored dry erase board. Target, engaged! The king’s six foot wingspan snapped open. He rushed northside of the inlet. squawnk squawnk, Then East, Squawnk. Squawnk. Then back south laser pointer 45 degree hold on a target too far for my eyes.
The ducks fled under the tree covered north shore. The gulls headed north for gas stations and convenience stores. A murder of 20 crows, I didn't know was there, flickered a shadow of darts in a bolt north.
Phil held the laser.
The King stood still.
Some symbols go unquestioned; their metaphor is explicit, unmistakable, cliched. Should you pray for a sign from God, they are neon billboards in a deep Maine Wilderness.
As the stone still point headed into its fifth minute, Phil twitched, exhaled, but held his target as it broke over the southern horizon line.
Enter The Bald Eagle.
I met Bald Bill one Mid-Spring morning when, with lock down, the lake was full of life. Not many humans meant more growth.
That morning Bill spread his 6 foot wings, dove 100mph, snapped up a bass and on his star spangled merry way.
A drought. Food is scarce. The King of the Lake stands tall.
But The Bald Eagle is King of the Sky.
My eyes on the eagle now. He's in a straight shot course for Phil. In a moment of panic I realized that meant he was in a straight shot course for me. A ridiculous thought, but I picked up my walking stick.
When eagles are starved, you never know.
I know they made eye contact. I know there was a question. And I know it was answered.
The Bald Eagle flew low enough I could count it's tailfeathers. The Great Blue Heron raised his two samurai swords, the Eagle raised back up and drifted North.
The Heron's bill followed… no.. his beak went south and East. The Eagle circled, found the beak's angle and followed it straight South and East.
I know there was a question. I know there was an answer. And I know there was respect. Power was there. Feet in front of me, walled up in two magnificent works of nature in a seldom played dance of two six foot feather wide Kings engaged in a question whose answer would set the direction of the power of lake and sky for the remainder of the drought.
Another 5 minute hold of his beak, even the hatches were quiet, up over the South East Horizon, The Bald Eagle flew a straight shot line over The Great Blue Heron back the way it came with a judging by the size of it, bass in its talons.
The King's beak inched down in increments. Phil's neck went loose. Phil yawned and started to preen.
The hatches one note bugles began. The ducks clunked into their parking spots by Phil. Some gulls returned to the chants of, "Bald Eagle…there was a Bald Eagle."
A gallant and groomed Phil, spread his six foot plus wingspan like a phoenix on a pyre and, “Squawnk Squawnk.”
More gulls landed to a different chant, "A Heron."
Behind laser pointed cellphone cameras, "No- That's a Great Blue Heron!"
No- That is a King.
Phil is a ham.