I Want to Swim Like an Eagle

I decided to get the hell out of Dodge last week because I’m still struggling with COVID the pandemic (not actual COVID). I still don’t go to restaurants and still wear my mask indoors. I didn’t come this far to get COVID now, dammit. And I also realize others are done and moving on. You do you. I still work primarily from home and needed to see something different than my house, street, and parks. So what’s a girl to do? Head west! In her newly repaired Toyota Corolla and head all the way west to the Berkshires. Which for Bostonians is like going to the Rocky Mountains. I’m not sure why, but we will drive 2 1/2 hours north to New Hampshire or brave 2/12 hours worth of traffic south to the Cape without skipping a beat. But going 2 1/2 hours to Western Mass? That just seems crazy.

To be fair, or rather unfair to New Yorkers, they do tend to go to the Berkshires, and nobody needs their attitude or their love of the Yankees.

But I was meeting my sister who lives in New York state, so the Berkshires made more sense. And don’t you know? The 2 1/2 hours west did not seem any longer than going to New Hampshire. Whodda thought?

The house was on a beautiful pond, which upon closer inspection and research was really more like a river with ambitions. But I was able to set up my work space to look out the sliding doors, and even though it was kind of hard to be inside dealing with work shenanigans while the pond was sparkling away, it did motivate me to sign off on time and go sit out next to it. It also didn’t hurt that it was windy as hell, actually inducing white caps.

And what did we see when we were able to sit and watch the pond? Gorgeous fishing birds of prey. We repeatedly saw a pair of birds that we are calling ospreys. They were always in the distance, we were squinting within an inch of our eyes’ lives, and we realized the light plays a lot of tricks when you are trying to identify their underneath color. But it’s not like birds diving for fish is a super common thing, and they were waaaaay bigger than any hawk, so we’re going with ospreys. It was such amazing thing to see them circling patiently, then suddenly diving and coming up with a fish. If that was amazing, seeing the eagle took our breath away, and then we realized it was probably a resident. It came around several times a day, and one evening sat in the tree directly across the pond from us and just chilled. We were entranced. And just when we thought it couldn’t get any cooler, it did. We were sitting by the pond chatting, and I caught a diving bird out of the corner of my eye. I saw the white head, and we knew it was the eagle. But then the bird stayed in the water and there was a lot of movement.

“Is it hurt? Is it OK?” Now we were leaning forward in our chairs squinting like all get out. It still didn’t rise up, but now there was a rhythmic motion going on.

“OK, not hurt, but it can’t be the eagle.” There were a bunch of geese heading toward the bird, and then we started to question our assertion that it was an eagle. Both the geese and the now mystery bird had a lot of white; maybe we saw a goose dive, and we’re so high on the eagle we were just assuming? It’s fascinating how quickly the doubt sets in.

I thought the rhythm looked like when I’ve seen ducks dive their head under water and let the water run off their backs. Only this bird was large enough that we could see its bulk, clear across the pond, if not the details. This wasn’t a duck, and it wasn’t just a quick dip of the head.

The bird made it to the other shore, and the visiting geese came and went. My sister and I looked at each other, stumped.

“That’s it. I’m Googling, ‘Can eagles swim?'” And, dear readers, the answer is, yes. Yes, they can. When the fish is too heavy to carry out of the water, they will swim with it to shore. The website we read also commented they wouldn’t win any awards for style. Our eagle was clearly doing the butterfly, and definitely it wasn’t pretty, but it was soooooo cool. Just when I thought eagles couldn’t be any cooler. Damn birds can swim. They don’t need an award.

And no, we didn’t get any pictures. We were being in the moment, you paparazzi. Also, it was too damn far away. Any pictures we would have gotten would have looked worse than the shadowy Loch Ness Monster. I know I’m rather sketchy, but you’re going to have to trust me on this one.

I carried that image with me all week, especially through all kinds of work shenanigans. If I’m feeling philosophical, I can use it to remind me that if you can’t get something done one way, you can get it another. But mostly, I just like to see it again in my mind, and say, “Damn, eagles are wicked cool.”


  1. Good for you for getting away! Mental health is just as important as physical health, esp. in the time of COVID. 👍

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