Sunday, November 30, 2014

In The Mind Of The Beholder

I was sitting in the porch swing earlier today, enjoying the quiet of the woods before me, when the big bird sailed gracefully over the head of the hollow beside the house. I was instantly transported to a distant place and an earlier time. My wife, my mother, a couple of my mother’s friends and I had signed up for a train ride into a gorge of our lovely state during prime leaf-peeping season. It turned out to be a rip-off with the “antique rail cars” looking like converted cattle cars and “supper on board” being a couple of lousy hotdogs which we had to pay extra for. Also, the staff acted like they’d been trained in the gulags, but the scenery saved the day.

We were still on a steam train beside a rushing river with beautiful mountains of autumn color all around us. It was then that some folks noticed the eagles circling high overhead in a thermal. They seemed to be curious about the strange vehicle and its riders, as they began to follow us down the gorge and gradually dropped closer as we traveled.

Probably, Adam and Eve were the first of our race to watch such birds in flight and envy their grace and freedom. I suspect no-one ever lived who, at least as a child, didn’t dream of sailing through the sky with only his “wings” to lift and guide him. Even today, I have to admit that the ability would be both frightening and thrilling.

And so, the crowd watched the eagles, and oohed and aahed as they circled and swooped through a clear but slightly breezy sky. As they grew closer, some folks commented on the rarity of seeing a pair of the few eagles living in the canyon and at our good fortune at being this close. I held my peace and waited for the inevitable.

Finally, someone with binoculars realized that we were watching turkey vultures, instead of eagles. The oohes and ahhes turned to ewws and yucks as everyone quickly lost interest in the still graceful fliers. I raised my bottle of soda pop in a silent toast to the two birds that had put on a beautiful performance. I couldn’t help but look with disgust on the fickle crowd that now pretended to never have been so foolish as to admire a pair of vultures.

In my mind, they were no better than pretentious idiots who went from cheering a ballerina for a flawless performance to booing her, when they noticed a wart on her nose. Such is mankind. © 2014


Lady Locust said...

Good of you to recognize a gift when you see it ~ others evidently don't. This reminds me of the Asian story of the nightingale and the peacock.
Many Blessings.

Ralph Goff said...

Even the mighty Bald Eagle feasts on dead animals just like the Turkey Vultures. As usual, its all about appearance. If you look good you can get away with anything. Those bald red headed vultures just don't have the flashy good looks of the eagles.

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

We watch the hawks and vultures fly here too, and sometimes have to drive around the vultures as they dine! They are pretty bold at times. The funniest thing I saw was at my office park where for one reason or another a couple of them landed next to one of those buildings that look like reflective glass. That vulture walked up to the glass and looked himself over. I can't help wondering if he though himself pretty handsome! lol

Gorges Smythe said...

I hadn't read that poem before, LL, thanks for bringing it to my arrenttion.

That's about the size of it, Ralph.

You never know, Kathy, he might have thought that he had some competition!

Scooney Adrift said...

Great story, still laughing!

Chickenmom said...

Vultures may be homely, but they own the sky. I love watching them them soar in the air. Have you ever noticed that they hardly flap their wings like geese?

Gorges Smythe said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Scooney.

I think they're the most graceful birds going, Cm.