By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe
Checking my Fitbit, I circle the track near Sunset Lake Elementary School a few more times; the Little League Fields are still, the concession stand boarded, the dugouts empty. One baseball-capped woman throws a Frisbee over and over to her golden lab, who races again and again, back and forth, back and forth. The playground is childless; swing set seats hang on idle chains, the wind rippling the soccer field.
My friend Leeanne and I walk down the center of Main Street; the village is eerily quiet. In the silence, we notice the paint peeling around a storefront window and a squirrel’s high-wire act. Senses heightened, we hear a woodpecker drilling high in an oak, his persistence admirable.
We feel this emptiness, grieve the loss of the togetherness and community we have always enjoyed in our little hometown. I am off-balance, out-of-sync, persistently fragile.
Mid-April, my husband spotted a bald eagle soaring above the neighborhood and lake. High in the sky, the signature white head came into view each time it circled our direction.
It was graceful, stunning, magnificent – an inspiring, powerful symbol of resilience and survival.
This is just what I need to think about during this difficult time of isolation and struggle.
As we sat around our dinner table sharing lunch and dinner during the summer months of our childhood, my dad reported regularly about the wildlife he saw while planting corn, cultivating the fields, or completing one of the many jobs for which he and my uncle were responsible.
Dad loved the woods, the wildlife, the fawns he would gently move to the side of the fields he worked. He respected the barn snakes, teaching us to never hurt them, that they controlled the rodents and other pests. He cherished the rare sightings of the many birds we now regularly see: Sandhill cranes, blue herons, wild turkeys, even Canadian geese all were unusual, and he made continual note of them.
But during this time, he never spotted an eagle. During the 1970s, the bald eagle joined the Endangered Species List, its numbers dipping dangerously low from loss of habitat and broad DDT use. Still protected today, the bald eagle is no longer endangered; in fact, the species is now thriving.
How pleased and encouraged my dad would have been by the solitary figure perched in the tree across the lake. I can imagine his smile, appreciation, and enthusiasm with the news of our sighting.
Like the eagle, we too will survive this time of endangerment. We will eventually hold new grandbabies, visit our parents and grandparents, smile at friends across dinner tables. In time, formal education will resume, and busses will carry our precious children to our schools where we will celebrate our students’ return.
Someday soon we will tell of the challenges we faced, of our recovery, and of our continued hope for the future.
It’s a Fine Life.
You can follow Kathy at her blog itsafinelife.com