As lazy afternoons go in my stretch of the river, this one was rolling along in pretty typical fashion. Until it wasn't.
It was around 4 p.m., and I'd assumed the position: Amply cushioned derriere planted in an even more amply cushioned antique metal rocker. Legs stretched onto the posterior portion of another lawn-side seat. Sandals kicked off. Toes wiggling.
Blissful. That about covers my state of reverie.
I'd spent most of the day puttering in the garden, digging up weeds, tying down branches of my grafted apple tree, snipping off suckers on the burgeoning rose bushes and filling myriad bird feeders.
I was now down by the riverside awaiting the arrival of my dining companion. And listening to songs of swallows, orioles and the occasional crow caw punctuated by the music of swift-flowing water as it danced over rocks.
Head tipped back, my freshly washed hair dangled down the back of the chair, flowing in the scent of lilac blossoms and wood smoke drifting on the warm breeze.
My state of near-Nirvana was interrupted by the steady ping-ping-ding of my iPhone alerting me to friends' Facebook notifications. I'd slipped the fancy phone in my pocket, thinking it might be nice to catch up on calls while catching some rays. But I was soon rendered way too dozy to discuss diddly. There is something about sunshine and the sound of water that renders me catatonic. The good news is I don't drool much for a goofball.
Speaking of balls, my cell was going off like an arcade game. Ping-ping-ding! Ping-ping-ding!
I'm more than a little ashamed to admit a Pavlovian response to this sound of my favorite social crack. Sunglasses slipping down my nose, I smiled and peered at the phone's screen. What's everybody jabbering about?
Before a word could be read, both my eyes pulled a hard left. And who could blame them? A bald eagle was swooping our way from just upriver. My peepers goggled as my jaw dropped.
I've seen Ole Baldie hunt before. Often without success. But win or lose, the powerful bird of prey never fails to impress. And he'd never come this close.
Baldie was circling alongside my seat, about 30 feet leeward. Pulling hard, our nation's mascot hung nearly vertical over the rippling water. Struggling to maintain position over his prey, he then dove and snatched a small, silvery fish from the cold, rushing water.
It was probably my imagination, but it seemed like I could hear the whoosh-whoosh of the eagle's wings as he lifted, turned and slowly flew to his usual perch in an old dead pine. A few slashes of one giant, yellow beak and the piscine appetizer disappeared.
Whatever type of fish he'd caught and consumed, it seemed only to whet his appetite. Springing off the snag, Baldie flew upriver, gaining a bit of elevation before circling back again.
So close. So amazing to behold. I wanted to race to the cottage and grab my binoculars. Or a camera.
The sound reminded me that any smartphone worth its IQ has both a camera and video. I pressed the camera icon and slid the focus as tight as possible. If I could just get one good shot, I could share this amazing moment with buddies near and far.
But between the tiny screen and the afternoon sun, I couldn't track the action. Where did Baldie go?
I set the phone down just in time to see Baldie splash down, miss his target and rise. As he cruised on past, his white head swiveled. Just for a second, we locked eyes.
I captured no photo. But these are images I'll never forget. And my pals are always welcome to their own seat by the river.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.