The Kickapoo landscape is covered with white from horizon to horizon and the sun sets on another winter day. A pair of Bald eagles perch together high in an old white pine that shows the wear of decades of wind and lightning. They have spent the day searching for food apart from each other, maybe miles apart.
Tonight they will watch the sunset and preen the dayís final rays into their feathers. Then, they will tuck their heads under their shoulder and sleep. Their waterproof feathers will keep them warm and dry when the cold rain comes on this Christmas Eve night. Tomorrow at dawnís first light, they will lift their beautiful white heads from that warm spot under their wing. With a great shudder they rouse every feather into place from head to tail. Itís the early bird who gets the worm and both of these great eagles will spend much of Christmas day in search of food. Finding it will mean it was a good day.
It was a good year for the eagles. There werenít many times they went to sleep hungry and they had little trouble finding food for the two eaglets they raised. Itís a big job to keep two young eaglets fat and happy. Having gotten strong enough to fly well, the young eagles get the urge to migrate further south and they both left a month ago.
Even in dim light, the eagles watch a flock of wild turkeys going to roost in the tops of some large oak trees a half-mile away. There is very little that escapes the watchful eye of the eagles. They see the coyote as he mouses at the edge of a distant hayfield. They pay little attention to the three deer that are peacefully browsing at the edge of the woods, thereís so much to dream about.
The turkeys down the valley will spend the night in the branches of a tall tree just like the eagles. They too will tuck their heads under their wings and sleep through the rain. Like the eagles, they have acquired the warm fat that wards off the cold. Their well oiled feathers will not let the cold rain penetrate to their down covered skin. The crows, hawks, doves, Blue jays and all the winter birds down to the tiny chickadees and finches are protected from bad weather. It will take more than a cold winter rain to dampen their spirits.
The rain didnít dampen my spirit either but after nearly two weeks of no sunshine Iím feeling sluggish. Saturday my prayers were answered and the sun lit my way to the drawing table with a new sense of enthusiasm. Iím grateful for any sunshine that comes during the dark days of the winter equinox. Having a little sun was sweet but also a little bittersweet because the thermometer dropped 20 degrees and everything got slippery.
It was extra nice to see the bright moon tonight. For the first time since the snow came the countryside is aglow in moonlight. From a window I watch a cotton tailed rabbit with his nose to the ground searching for bits of cracked corn. He comes out from under a snow covered brush pile each night to search for treats under the bird feeders. It will be a long winter for the rabbit but he is protected from the cold by thick warm bunny fur and a good fat reserve.
Itís that time of year when everyone should consider what new resolutions we can make to help mother earth.
Happy New Year!
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