I don’t know what it is about eagles, but whenever I see an American Bald Eagle, I lose the tiny fraction of sanity I am barely clinging to and act like a complete and total idiot. That ruse of cool, collectiveness I attempt so much to maintain washes off of me faster than you can say Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, and I scream at the top of my lungs, “It’s a Bald Eagle!” Sometimes, it doesn’t come off quite so poetically, as in the case I’d love to tell you about. Now this happened over two months ago, but I remember it clearly. Allow me to set the scene…
It’s a Sunday afternoon. My husband and our pirate children are hanging out in the living room while I attend to my chores. More specifically, I am folding laundry upstairs. No, I don’t get paid for this service, despite my attempts, which explains why I am putting fifty percent of my efforts into folding the laundry neatly, (fine, kind of neatly,) and the other fifty percent of my energy into animal watching out of my bedroom window. Animal watching is an activity? Well, in Southwest Florida it is…We live on alligator lagoon, so let me assure you the likelihood of spotting something that this native Hoosier would consider animal-like or wild is pretty good. So, I am sort of tackling one of my household duties, as my eyes periodically roam to the window.
Suddenly, I look up and out of the window again. As my eyes land on the bank across gator lagoon, my breath sucks in sharply. The shirt I am folding slips from my fingers, and I belt out my very natural and perfectly acceptable Midwesterner-transported-to-Southwest-Florida-response, “HOLY SHHHHH*******T!”
That little pest of an angel, who attempts to perch on my shoulder from time to time, whispers is my ear, “Sarah, the little pirates definitely heard that…” Of course, she is correct, but I don’t have time for lectures. I’m already in my pajamas. (Sure, it’s only three p.m., but this is customary in case you haven’t heard.) I flick the angel off of my shoulder and take off running. Being in pajamas means I need to find my shoes, my bra, my camera…my bra!!!
Where is my bra?
I think of what my sister would say…
You don’t even need a bra, Sarah!
She’s right! Forget the bra. Grab zip up hoodie! I push my arms through the sleeves and take off for the steps.
I run, slide, half fall down the staircase and slam into my husband as I stumble off of the bottom step. He looks horrified, worry covering his face. “What’s wrong?” he blurts.
Wrong? He thinks something is wrong? The man doesn’t know me at all. If there is danger, I scream danger. The two times there was a snake inside of our house, (yes, I said two,) I clearly yelled the word SNAKE at the top of my lungs. I dash past him and run for my office. I must find my camera. I hear him calling after me. I yell over my shoulder. “There are THREE Bald Eagles outside right now! I’ve got to find my camera!”
The camera isn’t in my office. Maybe, it is in the dining room. As I whiz past my husband again, I catch the expression on his face, which indicates he does not find the situation sufficient reason to scream an obscenity at the top of my lungs. I don’t have time to chat about my inappropriate language. The man can take a number and get in line with that pesky angel! There are three Bald Eagles behind the house!
No sign of the camera in the dining room. I race to my office again, locate my trusty Adidas flip flops, but there is still no camera. I put the shoes on as I yell, “WHERE IS MY CAMERA?” As I race through the house again, I can hear Charles talking to me. “I think we need to have a conversation about when, exactly, you screaming something like that at the top of your lungs is appropriate.”
I ignore him and continue in circles, my eyes scanning the interior of our home. He continues as I dash past him and something in his voice changes, “Um, Sarah, not to alarm you further, but there are actually four Bald Eagles out there right now.”
Four Bald Eagles?!? My heart races to unchartered territory. Suddenly, it hits me. “MY CAMERA IS IN THE CAR!” I yell louder than necessary.
I dart past my pirate children, who I hear giggling in the excitement of their lunatic mother dashing through the house, into the garage and grab that camera. When I return from the garage, I run past my family and towards the patio door, going over my checklist…Camera, check. Shoes, check, (well, flip flops.) Bra, negative. But I have gone out into the wild wearing only a bath towel before, so this is substantially better. Once past the door, I am vaguely aware of the farewells coming from the little pirates, “Be careful, Mommy!”
As I trek through the overgrown foliage beside gator lagoon, I notice voices around me. Loud ones. Not the mental ones or imaginary characters who keep me company and inspire my fiction novels. Real, actual human voices. How rare. I never hear people out here…I can hear them talking about the eagles. They are making entirely too much noise as far as I am concerned, but there is no time to investigate the human intruders. I must get a photo of the eagles.
I barely make it in time. I step through a sticker bush on the way to the water’s edge and see four Bald Eagles as I lift my camera. One flies away before I can get the photo. I silently curse out the people making all of the noise. (Silently, People, sue me.) But there are still three eagles on the bank. On the edge of gator lagoon, I snap as many photos as I can. I get a few shots, and then the Bald Eagles take off, one by one, returning to the sky.
Alone on the bank, I take a moment to smile victoriously. My foot is slightly irritated from the collection of burs I picked up on my adventure, I am wearing my pajamas, no bra, and my mysterious neighbors, who I have never even seen before, are suddenly outside. I figure today isn’t the day we should meet and head back inside.
As soon as I open the door, Charles has that look on his face…You know the one. I figure it is time to own up to the error of my ways and apologize for my sailor mouth, but I’ll feign ignorance for the moment. “What is it?” I politely ask.
“As soon as the door closed behind you, Audrey yelled, “Holy Sh*t, there are four Bald Eagles behind the house, Daddy!”
I bite my lip as I gage his level of irritation. I realize this is the part where I am supposed to feel terrible about the potty mouth my six-year-old has suddenly developed because of me, so I try my best to hide my smile. (No, I don’t think it’s okay, but I’m still riding high from my Bald Eagle experience. This was my first time to see more than two at once!)
“I’m really sorry,” I offer as I sit down and begin pulling stickers out of my ankles and socks. Audrey looks at me, and I try to look apologetic. “Mommy shouldn’t have said that word. It’s a bad word, okay?”
Charles takes over and gently explains to the pirates about not repeating the S-word again. I hear the lecture but it’s more of a muted sound, playing in the background. I’m in a happy place. Charles looks back at me, and I happily proclaim, “There were just four Bald Eagles out there!” Giving up on his reform-the-mother-of-his-children-lecture, he goes back to the computer, and the pirates go back to their quest to commandeer a ship in choppy seas.
Alone, staring out the window, I can’t stop smiling.
I may not be the recipient of a parenting award any time soon. I might not win that award ever. So at the risk of irritating my mother, that pesky angel, and the father of my children once again, I must tell you…
I got a photo of three American Bald Eagles…right behind my house…and HOLY SUGAR it was cool!
You didn’t really think I was going to curse again, did you? 🙂