I've been dragging my heels about this whole "holidays are over" thing. It probably happens every year and every year I forget, but this year I just didn't want the fun to end. I really liked our family time. It wasn't anything in particular, after all we didn't go anywhere or do anything for six days straight. But, then again, maybe that's it. Nothing much for six days straight. I went for a run every morning (a huge luxury in and of itself) and when I returned everyone was still in their pajamas. I would shower and put my pajamas back on. We didn't have anywhere we needed to be and our girls, supremely content with each other within the walls of our home, never even thought of departing. I'm serious. They never noticed that another day had passed. They read and played and ate and read and played and ate, so happy.
But time does have a way of passing and little by little, despite my urgings for the calendar to just stall out the "real world" began to creep back in. Slowly but surely we ran out of presents. Slowly but surely December shifted to January and before I knew it it was a Monday and we no longer had Bella, we no longer had Xi, we no longer had the visiting fish, we no longer had the visiting dog, and the cardboard recycling had crept up the basement stairs and was knocking on the door.
So I had to admit it was over.
I guess I had a little warning. New Year's rolling around, with the emphasis on the whole "new year" part is a fairly large hint that Yule is over. But I wasn't really feeling it. I have superstitions surrounding New Years, which meant I definitely wanted to kiss Nathan at midnight because that means you'll be together over the next year (a superstition Nathan had never heard of!), but I like being with him anyway so that main goal was fairly easily achieved and didn't make the evening anymore celebratory than usual. Actually he juiced apples while I retold him, including every single detail, Ann Patchett's novel "State of Wonder" (which I am crushed to have finished). No sparkly tank dress, no champagne. We could have rallied, made a different kind of date night happen but I didn't want to. I was still in denial about the holiday termination, still clinging to our week of bathrobes, banana bread, and happy girls.
I went on a run the next morning, the only one on the river trail except for two other dog walkers (dogs don't care what the calendar says) and a guy smoking a cigarette by his car and I'm pretty sure he was just still awake from the night before. I had forgotten it was any kind of special day but when the thought flitted across my mind I felt pretty good about running on the first day of the year, that felt like a good sign that 2012 might be physically active, but not much else occurred to me. I kept thinking that I should have a profound thought, make an important list, and then, ha ha, a HUGE bald eagle turned it's head and looked at me.
It isn't the first time I have seen a bald eagle. Missoula is like that, one minute you are running an errand, crossing the bridge to mail a package and suddenly there is NATURE reminding you that you live in the wild Rocky Mountains and beyond the surrounding peaks are not more clusters of suburbia but more mountains. Wilderness.
So there I was, waiting to feel the weight of the New Year, waiting to feel profound, when I stumbled upon the bird of our nation, sitting in a tree twenty feet away from my head, looming as large as our overstuffed laundry basket. They look so fake, so "postal service icon" with their white heads and yellow feet. He swiveled his head to look at me and I felt silly and small in my hi-tech fabrics. But he was like: "here is some symbolism if you want, absorb it and let me get on with my life. There are some good mallards that frequent this stretch so if you wouldn't mind I'd like to get back to it."
I giggled. And guffawed. I stood awkwardly craning and saying hello. Then I ran away.
I figured that encounter counted for something. I had only to look up the symbolic meaning of bald eagles and I'd have my profound thoughts for the New Year. Today after recess duty, grocery shopping and other very unholiday-ish tasks I looked up bald eagle. Here ya have it:
Some Native American (plains tribes) refer to the eagle as an earthly incarnation of the great Thunderbird spirit. Legend further states that lightning bolts shoot from the eyes of the bald eagle, and with the beating of its expansive wings, rain is conjured from the skies.
Picture the power of the gods clapping like thunder with each flap of their wings. With each crack of thunder consider barriers and blockages in your life being shattered.