Monday, December 25, 2006

Driving Downriver

Patrick and I drove south along the Mississippi yesterday (Christmas Eve). The day was partly cloudy. There is still no snow. About an hour south of the Twin Cities, the river spreads out into Lake Pepin, a long narrow body of water edged by wooded bluffs. The 19th century poet William Cullen Bryant said every poet in America should see Lake Pepin. The lake is mostly iced over, but there are patches on open water. When we came to the first patch, we saw dark dots on the ice, pulled into an overlook and pulled out our binoculars. The dots were bald eagles standing on the ice. Every few minutes, one would take off and fly over the water, looking for fish or a better place to stand. Ben Franklin thought the bald eagle was a shabby bird and recommended the wild turkey as our national emblem. There is an argument for the turkey, which I love, but eagle are magnificent looking and magnificent flyers.

We kept going south. There were eagles soaring over the bluffs, and eagles flying over the road (a two lane hardtop) on their way to the lake.

I think we saw a dozen or two dozen. This is not surprising. Eagles winter along Lake Pepin, because there is usually some open water. With the changing climate, this may change. It hasn't happened yet.

We stopped at BNOX, a lovely art gallery in the small Wisconsin town of Pepin, and did some last minute shopping, then drove home.

Why do I write these descriptions of ordinary days?

I'm trying to get down the pleasure of ordinary life. Science fiction is an over-the-top literature of pulp fiction action and big ideas. I love it and write it, but there is a lot to be said for a drive in the country that leads to no huge discoveries and no dramatic resolutions.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Katherine and I were out walking yesterday morning along Mississippi River Boulevard near St. Thomas and ended up standing about thirty-five feet away from a mostly unconcered adult bald eagle. For about twenty-five minutes we stood there, watching it take off for a bit then land in one or another tree, generally chased by a crow who felt that this bit of rodentia hunting ground belonged to it--and dive-bombing the eagle when it strayed a bit too near. It's always amazing how massive these birds are close up, with their seven- or eight-foot wing-spans. Marvelous. Well worth the walk, especially in the city like that.

1:16 PM  
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