This is a story about America:
Last week, I got home from work not really knowing if I wanted to cook dinner. Also it had been kind of a shitty day and I’ve gone to sleep angry the night before because Graham was, he later admitted, “cranky.” So it would have been okay with me to have a beer for dinner and go to sleep early, but after I entered the house, Graham told me to change into some clothes I could walk in because we were going down to the Locks.
The Ballard Locks are on the list of Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks. They are a nice place to visit and an easy 10-minute walk from our place. When we arrived there, Graham took out some salami, cheese, crackers, strawberry salad and Prosecco and we had a nice, semi-private view of the canal while we ate.
Because there’s a fish ladder built into the Locks, the canal is frequented by fish predators such as seals and eagles. We saw both, but since nobody ever sees a seal and thinks “AMERICA,” this is more about the eagle.
One of my favorite things is to watch a bunch of smaller birds beat the crap out of a bigger bird. It’s not that I don’t like birds, but I do like to root for the underdog. So when I see a group of crows or gulls chasing a bald eagle, I’m cheering for the smaller birds and hoping that big dumb asshole gets the hell out of there.
As we sat on the grass at the Locks, we noticed a few crows chasing a bald eagle away from a group of big trees across the canal. We’ve both seen it before, so we pointed it out and remarked “hey, look at that.” Then they flew out of sight and we forgot about it for awhile, until the eagle came back.
The first sighting was more about watching some crows beeline an eagle out of their territory. The second sighting was more about the eagle being a super duper dick, because not only did it return right to the big clump of trees filled with crows, herons, and other birds, but it slowly circled it for a few minutes, seemingly unperturbed by the crows swooping at its head and screaming at it to leave.
Then the real screaming started. I have never heard screaming from any animal this primal or bone-chilling, and I imagined what it was like for explorers stuck in the middle of the jungle or frontier and hearing shit like this for the first time. Because it wasn’t just the crows. It was the herons, too, and the gulls hovering nearby, and the other birds nesting in the trees and the eagle. It was a cacophonous, panicked shriek paired with a murderous warning scream, and it was so loud that it reverberated across the canal and seemed to say “I’m here, motherfuckers, I’m here and I’m gonna eat your babies.”
Which is exactly what the eagle did. It ignored the birds trying to attack it. It did not get chased away. It found an entry point and disappeared into the trees, and the screaming got even louder and didn’t stop. It just kept fucking going, and was so disturbing that people walking under the trees on the other side were cringing and covering their ears. It’s like – no, it was – listening to a slaughter. It was the most metal thing I’ve ever experienced and I just sat there with a Triscuit in my mouth.
Which is basically the story of Present-Day America, for anyone who doesn’t watch the news.