With a sigh
Another desert story to relate to you. This happened to me in the fall of 1993, as I spent a lovely 3 hour drive going north to Ely, Nevada to visit a friend. Instead of going straight up 95 north which would have taken approximately 5 hours, she told me about a shortcut up I-15 north, to I-318, to Route 6, sort of a back entrance into Ely.
The wild country of Nevada is spectacular. The further north you go the land turns into high arid desert, unbelievably beautiful. There is a 120 mile stretch of nothing between the last stop for gas around Ashford (I believe that's the name of the little town), and the Interstate 6 junction. In between that however, is sandstone so red and sky so blue it looks like a giant turquoise and coral necklace for the throat of God. The sand turns a myriad of colors depending on how the sun shines on it. It moves, shimmers, plays, pirohuettes; like a graceful dancer giving a grand performance at the Met. Joshua trees, sage, creosote, cactus are tossed about the desert floor with no city planning whatsoever. The laws of nature seem chaotic but She has her plan and it has absolutely nothing to do with man's ideas of how things should be. Only we are foolish enough to think we can change things and bend them to our will, but I digress.
As I was moving along I-318 at a brisk speed, I noticed approximately 100 yards ahead of me a large "form" in the middle of the road. As this form took on shape, several crows quickly took flight. I slowed down because it wasn't going to move. Finally I had to stop.
Right in front of me was a gorgeous desert eagle. Her head topped the hood of my Ford Tempo. Her eyes were the same golden green as mine and just as big. Her pupils were dark and wide and cat slanted. I could see a mottled brown pattern throughout her feathers. Her underbelly was a soft brown-grey. Her wing span was HUGE, literally 8 feet across...because as my vehicle pulled up she fluttered them in the wind and they expanded to their full length. Her legs were as thick as my forearms and her talons were as long as my fingers. Her beak was yellow, large and razor sharp. If I had gotten out of my car she could have very easily torn me apart. Wisely I didn't, because she stared at me as she positioned herself over her roadkill...and she would not move! She would not release her gaze from mine...she was trying to stare me down. I have never been so hypnotized in all my life.
And then a message became astoundingly clear: no matter what...STAND YOUR GROUND. I inched forward...she didn't move. I honked my horn...not a feather rustled. She merely bent down and began to eat the rabbit under her claws. As she tore off meat she would look back up at me and swallow. She continued to stare at me.
As I drove around her carefully, her eyes would NOT leave mine. Her head swiveled around to follow me. As I watched her out of my rear view mirror, she continued to watch me. I didn't believe for one moment that her guard was down or that she wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. As I sped away, she calmly returned to her eating.
I've never forgotten that experience. Why I thought the animal was female I have no clue. Only that it felt female. Maybe I am anthropomorphizing here. But I don't think so. I met her at a time in my life where I was learning to stand on my own two feet. I met her at a time in my life where I was learning to take care of myself and my own...just me and my skills and my wits. And that quick powerful meeting has carried with me through everything I have done since returning to Nevada and learning to be strong, independent, and my own person.