Before I get into the subject of tonight's post, let me just say that the recent natural events that have devastated such huge portions of The Gulf Coast looms large in my mind. I send my prayers to each and everyone affected by these storms and the horrible aftermath.
I was tempted not to post at all this week, but I will because tonight is the deadline to enter Judith Heartsong's Artsy Essay contest and I have entered every other month since I started this journal. What propels me to enter each time is not the hope and chance to win a prize, even though it would be nice to do so, but the challenge Judi offers us to hone our writing skills and to learn more about our fellow journalists here in J-Land through the links to all the essays. Though this contest I have been introduced to many journals I may not have discovered though any other avenue.
Judith Heartsong, Thank you for all the work you put into this contest every month and happy anniversary! This community is truly a better place because of your presence, encouragement, and efforts.
I have copied and will paste the challenge for this month taken from Judi's own keyboard and then follow it with my entry.
If I could be any animal on Earth......
Tell us which animal you would choose to be and why. Use your imagination, your sense of humor, or keep it drop dead serious. Weave your essay into a tale, write it into a poem, illustrate it with photos if you choose.
Descriptive language and engaging writing is a must, and will earn you points. This writing exercise is about self-expression and communicating your thoughts and ideas in the way that you choose.
And remember as always: Descriptive,Descriptive,Descriptive:):):)
As dawn broke over the eastern horizon, I peeked out from my lofty perch. This was the day I was to learn to fly and I could hardly contain my excitement.
My mother had been nudging me for days now trying to get me to take that final leap, that total commitment, which would result in either the most exhilarating moment of my life or the stark terror of eminent death.
My feathers were fully developed and had taken on the coloration of my ancestors. Brown and white I was, with talons that grew sharper and stronger by the day. I was still a fledgling, however, and my muscles were mostly untested. They felt strong and yet I still resisted that leap of faith. It would be the ultimate test that would take me pell-mell right to the edge of adulthood.
All that was running through my mind was the child-like verse my mother had taught me.
Do or die,
Fall or fly,
It’s your plight
To take to sky.
Soar and dive,
Climb and hover,
Learn this skill
From your mother.
Keen of eye,
And strong of wing,
Surely you can
Learn this thing.
My mother had repeated this to me so often that it overpowered my thoughts and lived permanently etched in my mind. I knew the only way I could displace this ever-present inner chant would be to do the deed itself. Yes, today I would fly, or die trying. Which would it be?
As I peel through the years and look back on that fateful day, that same feeling of tense excitement grips me and I can recall the events.
The day dawned bright and clear. The sky was azure blue as though a shimmering pool of water had become airborne and filled the sky. Little fluffs of white on the horizon hinted at clouds too distant to be of any influence on the day’s happenings.
Hunger had started to rear it’s head and I knew my mom would be back soon with this morning’s offerings. I hoped it would be a fish, my personal favorite. Since I had gotten larger mom would bring me a fish to tear into all by myself.
I could feel the warmth of the sun coursing through my feathers. I began preening myself as I waited for the morning meal. Looking up I saw my mother carrying a fish, as I had imagined she would, while closing the distance between us. She flew over a flat outcropping of rock and did something that startled me. She dropped the fish. Landing next to me on my perch mom was now empty-handed.
I let out a cry of both surprise and dismay as my morning meal lay flapping and dying on the flat outcropping of rock far below. I became agitated and started to run back and forth screeching in mom’s direction. That’s when my mom did something that got my full attention. As I passed close by, screeching my fool head off, my mom nudged me and I began to fall.
In a panic, I reacted out of instinct and with the little training my mom had tried to impart to me. I spread my wings and flapped and I could feel the resistance with each wing beat through the air as if I was trying to grab at a non-existent tree branch that would stop my fall. I gained speed in my free fall and I beat my wings faster, and then, as if by some form of magic, I was flying. I could barely contain my excitement and I started gaining altitude instead of losing it.
I saw a chance to land on an outstretched tree limb and I took it, stumbling clumsily as I grabbed for purchase with my untried talons. Bark stripped off when I applied too much pressure to stop my forward motion. I could smell the sweet, sticky smell of resin exposed under the surface of the tree limb where my claws had dug too deep, but I had landed. I was alive!
Oh, boy, was I alive. I looked down at the fish still flapping on the rocks below and I jumped with purpose this time and cleared the tiny limbs that shot off and out from the large branch I had just occupied. I grabbed at the air and found the right speed to flap that would keep my altitude. I circled and tried to glide in order to lose altitude slowly and it worked. Down and down I spiraled keeping the morning meal in the crosshairs of my telescopic sight.
I landed next to the fish almost as clumsily as I had just landed in the tree above, but that mattered not, as I triumphantly tore into the flesh and dined on my breakfast. With each mouth full I reveled in the fact that I had taken the plunge and survived. I had passed this test that was a right of passage to every one of my predecessors and I survived! I was, indeed, an American Bald Eagle!