I stood on the shore of Lake Waneka, before sunrise, under the light of the supermoon. Wind blew a bitter cold through my jacket, through my very bones. I waited, watching the changing light in the sky, taking only a few photos at a time before the chill necessitated hiding my hands in my sleeves. The moon hung over a bank of clouds obscuring all but the nearest mountains. I watched, I waited, I stood by the lake.
A woman with a dog came up to me, I turned and waved, caccooned in my coat and hood.
"Did you see the bald eagle?!" she asked full of excitement.
I didn't want to let her down.
"Yes," I lied, "but I didn't get a photo."
"Supermoon and bald eagle!" she fairly sang with elation, "that is a once in a lifetime!"
She ran away. I turned back to the west. I watched the cloud bank shift from silver, to blue, to lilac and then suddently to pink, with the first rays of the sun glowing from the east. The moon hung above this rosey scene, brilliant in it's brightness and clarity, powerful in it's size.
I took photos in bursts, trying to keep the camera steady in spite of my shivering body and completely frozen hands. During intermitant pauses, trying to revive my fingers, I looked around at the scene, grwoing rosier and more lovely with each moment; the lake, the purple branches of trees, the pink and purple flatirons, the pink clouds, blue sky, perfect moon. I noticed flocks of birds beginning to fly around me. I brought my camera up, trying to catch some with the moon.
Suddenly through the viewfinder I saw him quite clearly - the majestic bald eagle. Frantic with excitement and breathless with awe, I tried to keep up with him, clicking away as he angled and flew overhead. Suddennly he swooped down to me, so close the lends couldn't even focus. Then he rose, then swooped again. It was the closest I've ever been to a bald eagle. I held my breath. I lowered my camera. I witnessed his glory.
I observed as he flew around the lake, I watched as he moved toward the west.
I prayed to him, "please, keep going."
I lifted my camera, focused and zoomed. I held my breath and snapped away as he soared to the moon. At his peak draft my heart flew out of my chest and was carried aloft on his perfect wings He carried my spirit and we soared above the clouds, above the moon, in the first light of dawn.
I couldn't believe it had happened so perfectly, so collaboratively, so beautifully. After his flight he soared off and I stood, giddy and freezing again on the shore.
As the moon sank towards the clouds, and I was about to leave, I saw him once more. He flew around, then landed on a tree and we watched together as the last full moon of the year melted into the pink clouds of dawn over the mountinas.
"Goodbye moon," I said, "goodbye eagle."
I could feel, as I walked to the car, fumbling with numb fingers for my keys, the deepest and most profound sense of gratitude. I could feel my spirit, in animal form, welcoming the day and bidding farewell to the moon, high in the sky. Soaring free.