Nation Hunting

As signs go, it was an ambivalent one: A bald eagle, the chosen symbol of our country, hunched down in the middle of the road, feeding on roadkill, a dead squirrel — carrion. Is this the best we can do? Is this all we have left?



Yesterday at lunch I spotted a dolphin, and then, this morning, heard and saw a bald eagle. Is this bragging? Is that what you thought you’d read about, when I started, “Yesterday at lunch …”? Am I still confined to a cafeteria, or a McDonald’s, and the confounding dolphin is stuck there too, waiting on line for Fillet-O-Fish?

It was a hard day, yesterday, and when I spotted the fin, I thought, It would mean something if I saw a dolphin. I had just thought that, had just finished thinking it, and not a heartbeat after my overly emphatic mean, the dolphin resurfaced in profile—nose, fin, tail, no mistaking. And I thought, well, this is awkward. Do I make it mean something, or do I accept the coincidence? I’ve eaten at that park several times over the course of the past year, and this is my first dolphin sighting. When I told my husband about the dolphin, he said, “Dolphins are good luck,” but I knew he was kidding. He’s an atheist.

Then, this morning, first thing as I sit down at my desk, before I even sort out why my computer won’t turn on, I hear a bald eagle. They have this most incongruous, cheerful little chirp, quite out of place for such an imposing bird, and it’s unmistakable once you know it. “That’s a bald eagle!” I said, even though no one was around to congratulate me. I looked out the window and saw two flying away from me, and again I thought, I don’t know, maybe those aren’t eagles, when one cut straight across my field of vision, left to right, no mistaking. Later I told a coworker. She said she’d seen them, too, but I didn’t believe her.

I’ve seen bald eagles at work once or twice, over the past year, as they fly over our building towards the bay, so it wasn’t singular. All the same, I thought about that “lucky” dolphin, about seeing not one but three bald eagles out my window this morning, and I thought, maybe I’m just looking for a sign, because sometimes I do. And then I decided, maybe that means something.