Marolt: Trying too hard to capture a moment for life’s highlight reel
I saw a golden eagle perched on a fence along Owl Creek Road the other day. Yes, it was a golden eagle, I’m sure. I had to remember which glasses I was wearing when I saw it. I’m at the age when, no matter what corrective eyewear I’m wearing, I can see only half of what I would like to. I was driving, so I had my long-distance specs on, or at least I should have.
I saw the majestic bird sitting there, four feet off the ground, on the top rail from a quarter-mile away. It was so big and out of place you couldn’t miss it. I have seen a few owls on Owl Creek Road before but never an eagle. I bet it flew down from the Eagle Pines subdivision up on West Buttermilk, which I doubt I will ever see a quart of sitting on the side of any road, but you never know.
I had to get a picture because I recently had invested in an iPhone, and this was a prime example of the new urgency we carry them for. I pulled over halfway into the spring grass greening next to the blacktop. There wasn’t a car in sight in either direction and I felt safe to pull out the phone … camera. There was no reason to get out of the car. I push-buttoned my window down and tried to operate the camera … phone. The great bird spread its wings for the pose. If I hadn’t been concentrating so hard to get my gadget lined up and not seeing it with my peripheral vision, I might have been moved.
It was about that time when a few other cars slowed to see what I was fussing about. There was a hand pointing out of the passenger side of the vehicle directly behind me at the horses in the field on the near side of the road. Another car honked. A white Suburban from the opposite direction was speeding by as if to show us that its driver had been through here a thousand times and seen all there is to see along this stretch and he was no tourist so we should look at him instead of some stupid elk until he saw the big bird and came to a quick halt directly between it and me.
The eagle had about all it could take of this about the same time I figured out my gizmo. But I’d had enough of the stress, too, so I was already pulling away toward open road, leaving the late-arriving gawkers behind, when I heard the synthesized click of my smartphone … yeah, that’s what it is, a smartphone. The result is that I have in the palm of my hand at a couple of swipes of my fingertips an image of an off-center, dark blur in an even blurrier digital display that I explain to people is the shot of a magnificent eagle taking flight from 15 feet away to which they say “Hmmm” and then ask if I have ever seen a spring so cold and wet, to which I can only respond, “no, not in an awfully long time.”
I wish now that I would have pulled my car all the way off the pavement and into the grass and gotten out and pretended to be stretching all the while focusing my complete attention on that bird. I doubt anyone else would have even slowed down, much less noticed the bird on the fence with me doing roadside yoga, not very well, on the opposite side of the road. It would have been satisfying to wait it out until either I had had enough of the eagle or it had seen enough of me and we both soared off peacefully home to get our respective dinners.
Instead, I got mentally bogged down the rest of the drive and ruminated on the one fundamental flaw of employee housing. You can have whatever opinion you want to about its merits and how much of it we should build, but have you ever thought that eventually every board, brick, shingle, pipe and wire will have to be replaced at free-market cost, but it still must be sold at a discounted price? It’s not the biggest problem in the world, but only a tiny random one that occupies your mind when you don’t have a clear memory of a beautiful bird in it.
Roger Marolt now knows that living in the moment is severely underrated. Contact him at email@example.com.