December: cold, a scattering of snow, the ice settling into the ground.

In Hardwick, on impulse, I stop into a store and buy a string of white lights with wooden reindeer for my daughters. It’s Sunday morning, and hardly anyone is out.

Walking home with those lights tucked into my backpack with a brown paper bag of rice and a square of cheese, a bottle of sesame oil, I cut through the cemetery. Before long, the cemetery will be snowed in for months.

I’m walking up the path from the piney woods, near last summer’s potato patch, when a bald eagle glides down from a white pine. I stand quietly — yes, white tail feathers, head, its curved beak earthward. Without flapping a wing, the eagle catches an upwind and drifts over my blueberry bushes and garden, then disappears around our white clapboard house.

I grew up in New Hampshire and never saw a loon as a child. We never saw wild turkeys, didn’t dream of bald eagles swooping over a trampoline in a backyard, never heard coyotes except when we were camping in the Rocky Mountains.

When I step into our kitchen where my daughters are baking cookies, they greet my news of the eagle with cool, and keep on with what they’re doing.

While the pandemic reigns, the wilderness hasn’t gone away. Hungry eagle, what did you find for dinner?

On our kitchen wall…

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.


      1. We have a pair nesting by the Connecticut River about a quarter of a mile from my house. We see papa cruising the river frequently, intent on a nice meal of fish. The first time I saw him, I couldn’t believe how big he was! I know I never saw one as a child, nor a bear or a turkey, and we kids lived in the woods!

  1. As always, love your imagery. “ Walking home with those lights tucked into my backpack with a brown paper bag of rice and a square of cheese, a bottle of sesame oil, I cut through the cemetery.”
    So evocative, not sure why, but it is. I have no Vermont eagle stories (baby eagles at Reversing Falls in Pembroke Maine – yes) BUT I also have the B & P poster Sing!

  2. This weekend when I went out in the morning to walk my dog, there was a beauty – hawk? Falcon? sitting in a low branch about 10 feet away from me. We watched each other interestedly. (my dog is kind of little…!) An hour later – still morning, I called my sister who lives in Manhattan and as we were talking she went to the window and gasped — there was a hawk sitting on the windowsill of an apartment directly across from hers. What a weird coincidence, right?
    I’ve never seen an American Eagle – that would really thrill me!

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