Monday, November 23, 2009

Biking with an Eagle

There is a section of Grant’s Trail in St. Louis (mile marker 1 on the map) where a biker or walker (and sometimes a blader) is almost guaranteed to see wildlife, and not just rabbits or squirrels. One summer a nice seven-foot long king snake slowly meandered its way across the trail, pausing long enough to stop foot and bike traffic in both directions. Then there was a family of wild turkeys – two grown birds and several chicks. I slowed and then stopped, just watching the two grown birds herd the kids across the trail. And there’s the herd of deer that inhabit the stretch. I’ve seen them from some distance down the trail as they quickly crossed; fairly close as three of them, as close as five feet away, stood and watched me bike by, and once when several suddenly darted across the trail, right in front of me.

I braked hard. It’s bad enough to hit a deer if you’re driving a car. Hit one when you’re biking, and you, not the bike, will sustain most of the damage.

There was also the time on the Katy Trail, a stretch in St. Charles County near St. Louis that’s heavily wooded but adjacent to the Missouri River. I was biking by myself, when I heard a huge rustling in the tree limbs overhead. The next thing I knew, what caused the rustling was flying alongside me, and we continued together (once I resumed breathing after the shock) until it rose and soared off toward the river. “It” was an American bald eagle; I could have reached and almost touched the tip of its wing next to me.

Over at the High Callings Blogs, we’ve now finished week 8 of our discussion of Gerald May’s The Wisdom of Wilderness. And a family of wild turkeys and a bald eagle are characters in this chapter. The turkeys seem to serve as a digression for May, and how Benjamin Franklin wanted to have the turkey as America’s national bird. But his eagle story – when an eagle flew straight at him as he was in a boat -- resonated. He dodged that eagle, but along came a second one. And both did exactly the same thing – attempted to defecate on him.

Despite the funny story about the eagles, of the eight chapters we've read so far, this one has the least to recommend it. It begins with a veer toward a rant about rejecting the “dominion” over nature God gives man, as recorded in Genesis. (And this is one of the reasons May rejects the inerrancy of Scripture.) This is a point at which the book is beginning to show its age – there’s been a huge development in Christian thought about nature and the environment in recent years, and what “dominion” actually means. And it’s not “plunder and pillage,” but more like “use and be good stewards.” And the chapter finishes with the eagle story. I’m not sure where May was going.

But the eagle story is funny.


katdish said...

I think I'm with you. I think we should be good stewards of the earth without being crystal gripping tree huggers. There's a balance there.

Janet Oberholtzer said...

Love the closeness with nature biking can give us. I've seen many deer in a local state park and it's always a thrill to watch them gracefully run across the fields.
Saw a rattlesnake once, on a bike trail in the Central PA mountains - don't want to repeat that! I was shaking so bad I could hardly keep my bike steady as I quickly rode down the trail away from him.

I like your definition of dominion as "use and be good stewards." As created beings of God's - it seems logical that we should try to take care of the rest of his creation ... not harm it.

Maureen said...

Your story of the eagle flying beside you: thrilling.

I agree with you about this chapter in May's book. I thought the story of the bombarding eagles was interesting but went nowhere.

There is a beautiful poem in "Love Poems from God" by Daniel Ladinsky called "Consecrated". A few lines:

"All has been consecrated. / The creatures in the forest know this,/ the earth does, the seas do, the clouds know/ as does the heart full of love...."

To be faithful stewards of creation is the least we can do.

L.L. Barkat said...

I like the root words in the passage in Genesis, that suggest we "work and serve" the earth.


Now that's a new thought on dominion, yes? :)

I love your story about the eagle.

Laura said...

Glynn! YOu are a week ahead because my lazy self is taking a week off!

But I'm glad you did because this eagle story just made my day. Wow and double wow.

I love what L.L. says about serving. Or, maybe she was talking about pie?

Happy Thanksgiving, friend. Many blessings.