One day when the woods were young and lush, I had two adventures. The first was not so much an adventure as a discovery. I found an eagle feather. And though you’re not supposed to, I took it home. It was about a foot long, dark brown, and a little tattered. It was very beautiful. It made me think of the opening lines of a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald – either The Great Gatsby or Tender is the Night:
“He had flown up very high to see, on strong wings, when he was young. And while he was up there he had looked on all the kingdoms, with the kind of eyes that can stare straight into the sun. Beating his wings tenaciously – finally frantically – and keeping on beating them, he had stayed up there longer than most of us, and then, remembering all he had seen from his great height of how things were, he had settled gradually to earth.”
I pretended that the eagle feather I had just found had dropped from those strong wings as they looked on all the kingdoms, and had lain in the deep woods all those years until I came along.
The second adventure came when this ridiculously enormous beast came galloping toward me. It was gray, shaggy, fast, and huge, and I had no idea what it was. As it got closer the only thing I could think to do was to take off my jacket and hold it in front of me. Just as it was about to crash into me, I figured I’d throw my coat on its head, move out of the way, grab a stick and start whacking it. But instead of pouncing on me, it started trotting circles around me and I realized it was a dog. And then I saw its owners coming down the trail after it. A husband and wife about 50 years old, each dressed head to toe in tan. The husband had on one of those Australian hats with one side of the brim buttoned up against the head and the other side out flat. And the wife was holding a little fidgety dog for whom the path was obviously too treacherous. The husband told me the beast was actually an Irish Wolf Hound. I’d never seen anything like it before. Its head was well above my belly-button, and when it ran its footsteps pounded the earth like a horse. When the beast, its owners, and the little fidgety dog had passed, I thought about the eagle that had flown up very high on strong wings and whose feather I now held in my hand.