What’s All the Fuss About?

It’s been a noisy day outside my windows today.  The noise started just after lunch, after I’d taken the dog for a walk on the beach.  We don’t get down there often enough, and when we do go, we usually tread the same stretch to the south, where there are lots of trees, a swing that dangles from an outstretched limb, and an antique cabin that sits right on the sand.  But today, I decided to go north, along the stretch where houses sit on stilts over the beach, some of them appearing to float when the tide comes in. Low tide is the only time we can walk that way, and today’s low happened at a time convenient for my day’s schedule.

Monday is my heavy-duty domestic day, the day when I do laundry for the week, drive to the grocery, the dry cleaners, to get gas, whatever needs to be done to keep the home humming. Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment to schedule all this in one day, but it gives me some order, some structure, which is especially helpful during this less-structured period after the grind of treatment.  I had lots of energy today, so after taking the kids to the bus stop, doing the breakfast dishes, starting laundry, and planting more seeds for the garden, I put the leash on the dog and off we went.

As we headed north, the dog scampering on ahead, I noticed some bright red spots in an arc on the sand.  I  followed the arc with my eyes to a small seal, or perhaps it was an otter, dead on the beach with its side torn open, the blood bright and fresh. Thankfully, the dog didn’t see or smell it. We had such an encounter soon after we moved here, one that the dog reveled in, so to speak, and he ended up wearing that seal’s blood.  This time, he was oblivious and we passed on up the beach.

On the way back, I noticed movement near the otter, again before the dog could sense anything, and realized that an eagle had come for a feast, perhaps to continue one he’d started earlier, which would explain the bright red drops I’d seen. I put the dog on the leash and walked quietly to within a few yards of the eagle.  He continued to eat, plucking at the otter and then lifting his head as if to savor the meal.  Eventually, he sensed our presence and flew away.

The rest of the afternoon, I heard the constant noise outside of birds in action.  The eagles, the first one now joined by a second, gave their high-pitched, whistling chatter as they were heckled by a couple of Stellar’s jays, with their sharp-edged cries.  Here they are high in the tree near the beach, their backs turned so they could face the jays.

Two eagles are bothered by Stellar's jays.

For several hours the chatter and cries continued.  The eagles would fly down the beach, only to return a short while later to perch again in the same spot, where the jays would resume their heckling.  I don’t know what the jays expected of the eagles.  They had no food  (the tide having come in and the otter likely washed out to sea) and seemed only to want to perch peacefully in the tree. Odd that these majestic birds would have such a high, chirping cry. Odd too that such grand creatures would be bothered by noisy little busybodies.

I feel lucky to have witnessed the grand show nature put on for me today. These moments make we wonder about all the things we humans do to make life busy, noisy, and complex.  Perhaps we’re like the jays, having to make our noise, ensure that we’re noticed and heard by powers bigger than we are.  Having spent the past year contemplating mortality, I wonder, just what is all the fuss about?


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