I could hardly believe my eyes, but there they were.  Trees filled with American Bald Eagles and some Ospreys.  I counted.  There were between eighteen and twenty of them spread out in four different trees.  It was breath-taking.

They were gathered for a lunch of fish and fowl.  They were gathered not far from the spillway of a very large lake.  When the water comes through the spillway into the river, it brings with it fish.  The Eagles were fishing.  There were as many as four of them in the air at a time, dipping down to try to grab a fish.

There were also around 150 ducks of mixed variety gathered on the water in that same area.  The ducks were aware that they could make the banquet table just as easily as the fish.  It was actually comical to watch — probably not funny to the ducks.  When an Eagle got too close to one of the duck, the duck would do just that, duck.  It would pop underwater for a moment.

I was captivated with the scene for as much as an hour and a half while a Volunteer was at the house with Mary Ann.  This was not actually a day to be out and about.  We got a few inches of dry snow on top of the nine inches we got during the Christmas Eve blizzard.  It has been cold enough that all the snow is still here.  The streets melted some, but dry snow on top of refrozen melting ice made for some treacherous driving.

As I drove out to the lake and back, there were eight to ten cars in the median or off to the side in the ditch.  Many of the cars still had people in them.  When I left, I had intended on going to a couple of my favorite spots by the lake to check for birds.  I was dressed to be able to get out and walk if I chose to do so.  As I traveled there, it became clear that there would be a risk in getting off the main road on to areas that had not yet been cleared.  While a four-wheel drive vehicle would have made it more possible to get to those spots, there was something else that dominated my thinking.

Were I to slide off into a spot I could not get out of, there would be a long wait for help.  There were no other cars in on the roads around the lake.  I was making new tracks in some of the roads I was already traveling.  If I were tied up for any length of time waiting for help, it would complicate the day for Mary Ann and the Volunteer.  Any risks I take are not just about me.  They are about Mary Ann.  She cannot be by herself.  If I am not available to be with her, it would be no small task to keep her secure.  Gratefully, Mary (who schedules the Volunteers) would make phone calls until she found Volunteers to stay with Mary Ann.   Bad roads also impact Volunteers.  They are not necessarily able to get out with ease themselves.

As a result of those concerns, I was extremely cautious.  I found a spot on the road across the dam.  There is a great view from the top of the dam.  The spot was right above the spillway.  Snow was falling lightly, the sun was just a light spot in the clouds.  With the snow covering the ground it was very bright.  The panorama of frozen snow-covered lake on one side and the expansive view of the landscape through the lightly falling snow the other side was as beautiful as it was peaceful.

I listened to music as the car ran to keep me comfortable, and I watched the scene below.  The last of the music was some Russian Orthodox liturgical music.  It was as if I was in a bright white cathedral filled with the presence of God.  After so many days contained by the four walls of a small townhome, it was a wonderfully refreshing respite.

Mary Ann seemed to do pretty well today.  We watched the Kansas City Chiefs win, a rare treat.  Mary Ann went to bed fairly early, but she has been watching television while lying in bed for about two and a half hours now.  There is no sign of her going to sleep yet.

We chose to stay in tonight.  The weather is predicted to continue to be far colder than usual here.  The combination of the snow cover and temperatures heading to below zero later in the week are testing our mettle.  Our Northern Illinois roots help us from being completely intimidated, but what the wheel chair adds to the complexity of getting in and out of a car and in and out of parking lots and in and out of sometimes heavy and/or awkward doors with threshholds that can provide barriers others would never notice, all makes us think twice about going out in cold and snowy weather.

At least it looks pretty outside!

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