Soar­ing be­yond the heat

The Covington News - - Opinion - THARON GID­DENS EDI­TOR Tharon Gid­dens is edi­tor of The Cov­ing­ton News. Reach him at (678) 750-5011 or at tgid­dens@cov­news. com.

I’m find­ing it hard this week to work up the will to take the grand­dog out into the sul­try still morn­ing for a walk, how­ever piteously she looks with that sad blue eye and that even sad­der brown eye.

It’s hot, it’s hu­mid, even at 7 a.m. I’d rather read and ride an ex­er­cise cy­cle than go on an ex­cur­sion along the trail in Ox­ford with the dog. Sorry, So­phie.

She eyes me with dis­gust while I ride.

And yet when I try to shoo her out the back door, she hes­i­tates and gives me a “how can you do this to me” look. It’s as if she’s say­ing if she has to go out, I should go out, too.

She barely makes it off the deck, takes care of busi­ness and is back at the door, yelp­ing for re-en­try. There’s no lin­ger­ing, look­ing for chip­munks and squir­rels and cats these morn­ings.

Our long walks are less fre­quent in sum­mer, but we walked the length of the trail on Mon­day.

We had it to our­selves. The birds were quiet, even the pea­cocks that live nearby, as if the heat was al­ready too much for them. The only sounds were the dull thrum of traf­fic from the in­ter­state and the in­sect buzz from the swarm of as­sorted winged crit­ters that en­gulfed us when­ever So­phie wanted to stop.

And then I heard a snort in the un­der­growth by the creek be­hind Ox­ford Col­lege and watched the deer run up the hill. We weren’t alone, af­ter all.

The sink be­hind the col­lege is usu­ally the coolest part of the trail, but to­day, sweat was al­ready seep­ing through my T-shirt and bead­ing on my arms. The air was so sat­u­rated, it had nowhere to go.

We con­tin­ued the climb and left the trail be­low the Ox­ford wa­ter tower. The 14 buz­zards that make their home there seemed to be eyeing us and judg­ing whether we had po­ten­tial as a meal. They ap­par­ently had no in­ter­est in a par­boiled break­fast.

It was even hot­ter out in the open along Wes­ley Street as the sun con­tin­ued on its as­cent, but there was some re­lief to be found on the Ox­ford quad.

Birds were more ac­tive there, and there was one par­tic­u­larly un­usual call com­ing from an oak. A large, brown-feath­ered bird was there, with white mixed in. It was ob­vi­ously a rap­tor, but seemed too big for a hawk. Its call wasn’t as shrill as a hawk, ei­ther. Was it an ea­gle?

We stopped and stared un­til the great bird flew into the sun­rise and away from cam­pus.

I checked with Jim Ozier of the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources later on Mon­day and de­scribed the bird.

It’s in­deed pos­si­ble that the col­lege visi­tor was an im­ma­ture bald ea­gle.

A nest­ing pair of bald ea­gles had been seen at Lake Varner, he said, which as the ea­gle flies, was not that far away. It could have been a bird pass­ing through, too.

The bird sight­ing made my day and the long, sweaty walk worth­while. I don’t care how hot it gets, it’s still cool to see an ea­gle.

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