I live in a part of the world that not many would call beautiful. However, on all sides of us we see sweeping plains and skies that are a kaleidoscope of colors that at times simply take your breath away. We awake early and have seen sun rises that are beyond description and no picture could possibly do justice. Within a few miles North or South, driving through scattered farms and rolling hills, we can find river valleys with gently flowing water and woods filled with wildlife. Not far North of us is the Minnesota River Valley which we visit with come regularity. We have seen a great many deer, beaver, eagles and other bird life in that valley, including pileated woodpeckers and wild turkeys, and my wife, who is a devoted bird watcher, is always alert to the smallest movement. I have learned to stop the car quickly and reach for the binoculars.
Two years ago this month we saw a sight that I expect very few people have ever seen. We were driving in the Minnesota River valley on a cold March day with glistening white hoar-frost on the twigs and branches of every tree set against the bluest of clear, Canadian skies. I was suddenly told to stop the car as my wife had seen something in the sky above us. I stopped and we got out and looked upwards. There floating above us was a pure white eagle. If I had identified it I would have guessed an egret, but my wife assured me it was the wrong shape and also it couldn’t be an egret at that time of the year; we got a good, long look at the bird through the binoculars and it was indeed an eagle. It was impossible to tell whether it was a golden eagle or a bald eagle because it had no colors except the whiteness all over. But since golden eagles are rare in these parts and we see a great many bald eagles, we supposed that is what we were looking at — probably an albino bald eagle. And he simply floated there above our heads — either looking for a thermal of just showing off. We watched him until our necks ached and he finally flew away along the river — toward the Native American community that lives in that region. Perhaps he was going to visit his friends. But in the meantime he had given us the thrill of a lifetime and we regarded it as a very good omen. We all live in a beautiful world, wherever we happen to reside, and it behooves us to stop and look around (or up!) from time to time. You never know, you might have a moment like that one: one you will never forget.