As I’ve written before in this blog, a pair of magnificent ospreys took up an unlikely residence on the power pole at a key intersection in my town, built a huge stick nest, and then another when the power people took the first one down.
The ospreys set up housekeeping, one bird keeping a vigil over the nest while the other foraged for food.
Something smoldered atop the pole and when the firemen came to remove the nest, they saw eggs, so they insulated the wires instead, and left the birds in peace.
Motorists began stopping, taking pictures. The local newswoman was there with a big, fat camera lens, pursuing the rumor that the babies were flying. But it wasn’t true.
Day after day, those of us who passed through this area took pleasure in their progress. Look, one is flying. Look, a bit of grass in its mouth. Look, the osprey is fishing in the cove nearby.
There was something cheerful about the birds, something encouraging and affirming. If the ospreys can build in this awkward location, raise a family, and perform all the duties of living, strong wings spread in flight, tufted little head lifted to greet the world—so, too, possibly, could any of us.
And then one day, a breaker blew and a serious fire broke out. The baby, just one as it turned out, fluttered to the ground. The parents circled in frantic distress. Power trucks, fire trucks, and raptor rescue arrived within minutes. A fireman cradled the baby in his big, padded gloves. A new pole, a new home, was erected licketedy-split, no one calling the Dig Safe people and sure enough, they hit a line and took out phone service, but they got the job done. The baby was returned to the new nest with a supply of fish and the parents followed not long after.
The baby has not yet flown, still too young. The parents, one standing vigil, the other in search of sustenance, continue their routine.
Meanwhile, I came across some lore about these birds from Shakespeare’s time, the idea that the ospreys are such magnificent birds, the fish go belly up in surrender to them. It serves to underscore the point to this story: in the face of something magnificent, something worth preservation—the idea of freedom, let’s call it, the idea of flight, the idea of survival against the odds—everything and everyone must capitulate.
If I know that this is where I’m headed in telling this story, it will determine all that came before: what I choose to tell you and what I leave out.
Comments welcome and edited to include first names only, and website, if provided; never your email. Photo credit: ospreys by Mr. T. in D.C., roap map by Pigsaw.