My head was down, feet crunching away at the decomposed granite path as Daisy and I were out this morning for an early morning walk in the neighborhood. I was pretty deep in thought, only interrupted by giving Daisy the occasional cue to 'leave it' or 'no, thank you' when she encountered a random squirrel or bird on the ground. As we rounded the bend of our little lake, a juvenile bald eagle swooped down over the water from a high redwood perch nearby. He was so close I could see his eyes and hear the stealth swoosh of his wings.
This isn't the first time I have seen eagles in the neighborhood but each sighting takes my breath away. Hundreds of migratory bald eagles select California as their wintering location, usually arriving during the fall and early winter. They normally remain until February, or occasionally April. So this eagle is likely a SLO County resident, part of the non-migratory eagle contingent. There are nesting sites at Lopez Lake, Santa Margarita Lake, and Santa Margarita Ranch, as well as the Pozo area.
Clearly, I was meant to encounter him this morning. He completely snapped me out of my morning ruminations and brought me right into the present moment. I stopped my determined plodding, followed his flight path to his next high perch and experienced a moment of awe and a reminder to be grateful for what is.