Silver Talon, Sacred Prey | Free Spirit Volume 2016 Issue 2

In The Beginning, there was no light. But there was a fishing rod. And a tiny, leaky wooden rowboat. And a young girl who wasn’t afraid of the dark. I was only seven and it was better then. I hadn’t been taught what was possible yet, so I still believed in impossible things.

At this moment I am just a little girl, in a teensy rowboat, in the middle of a great big lake, and I am the only human in the world…

So many days begin like this one― tip-toeing barefoot across the cold cabin floor, easing the screen door open so creaking hinges won’t disturb my slumbering parents. I slip the required lifejacket over my arm, fumble in pre-dawn shadows for the icy handle of a rusty old tackle box, once more trust the shiny silver tip of my very own fishing pole to show me the way.

Steam rises from the glassy surface of the lake as dawn gathers on the eastern rim. My young soul fills with fresh wet forest smells, the familiar crunch of dry pine needles underfoot. I grow taller with each step. I am The Lonely Huntress, coming…

With one quick push, the bow of my worthy 8-ft. pram cuts the liquid mirror in two, and soon the steady cadence of bumping, dipping oars calms my pounding heart to a mesmerizing pace. The sweetest music ever played, this soft squeaking of the old oars’ rotted leather wrappings called once again to patient service. I lean and pull… lean and pull… summoning all my fledgling strength. Mists part, invite me into a different world now, one where seven-year-olds are full of power.

I’ve made one full pass along the rocky shoreline, point to point, as far as I’m allowed to go. A stern old-country father has clearly defined my boundaries. If I row beyond sight of the cabin, I’ll lose my boating privileges for a long, long time. This isn’t a risk I’m willing to take.

’m fishing shallow this morning, as the Kokanee always cruise the surface at this time of day, picking off the early morning hatches. My single fluorescent lure wiggles and flashes some 30-yards behind the boat as I make a wide slow arc, circling back for another pass.

Suddenly an ominous feeling jolts every cell of my being. I glance back over my left shoulder just as a huge silent shadow moves menacingly from behind me, quickly obliterating the sky only a few feet above my head. It is SO BIG and I am so small! I instinctively hunch down, close my eyes tight, bracing for the sharp talons that will surely stab deep into the back of my neck, carry me away.

Instead the huge Bald Eagle swoops low over the stern of my boat, just inches above the water. In one deft and impossible movement, it stretches massive wings and talons to pluck a squirming fish from the exploding surface, then evaporates silently to The North.

Fear retreats with the great bird as a new realization slowly forms inside my swirling mind.

“Oh… he’s just a fisherman… like me.”

The Eagle and I are inexorably connected from this moment forward. We are creatures with common path and purpose. We understand one another. On some level, we are kin.

I am left breathless, trembling, electrified, completely adrift in an ocean of awe. Marked by an encounter so profound, so utterly unexpected, so foreign to any previous experience, I’m forced to carve a new opening in my child’s reality. My vision of the world and my place in it has suddenly stretched light-years beyond former limits.

Unharmed, but far from unchanged, I will draw strength and insight from this threshold moment for the remainder of my life.