Summer is almost over. We’re back from vacation. The leaves at home are drying up, getting ready to fall and be raked. But it’s still warm enough to pretend that summer and leisure are still ahead of us. We vacationed again this year in a perfect place on Earth, which took my heart forever from the first time I visited there.

Pitcher Pond, Maine. The cabin, lent by my wonderful cousin Jeanne, is a perfect combination of rustic-in-the-woods and having-every-modern-convenience, except TV and Internet, neither missed. There’s a phone, but it never rings. Life is tranquil, a word we rarely use.

One afternoon, we climbed 10 yards down a slope to the dock overlooking the lake. The afternoon sun was strong, so we brought ice and water down from the cabin and sat at the table under the umbrella. Doing nothing.

A huge bird swooped from the sky, startling us. The sun was coming from across the pond into our eyes, so we couldn’t identify the bird until it had scooped a big fish from the pond, which it then flew to a big rock just under the surface of the water.

The bird was a bald eagle. We saw the white head and golden claws clearly when it landed. We couldn’t see the species of the fish.

The eagle sat on the rock, fish firmly in its claws, and began to eat. We watched, entranced, impatient for a turn to use the binoculars.

The silent drama was over in 20 minutes. The eagle ate its fill and flew off. Seagulls flew in to devour what was left of the fish, which was still on the big rock.

After a while, there was nothing on the rock and the seagulls left, too. Waves lapped over the rock, as they had before, hiding it from view. The only trace of what had just happened was in our memories.

The merciless process goes on every second of the day and night. It has to. Every living thing must feed on something. Everyone I see and everyone since the beginning of time seeks food.

The sight of a large bird eating its prey in real life, though, was extraordinary.

We sat quietly for a long time after the birds left. I admired the fir trees and the beautiful sky. We drank some ice water. Pitcher Pond has a magic of place. Houses, some large, some small, have been built around the edges of the lake over time.

The lake and trees, though, look as they must have looked centuries ago. Seeing the eagle was a gift, a reminder that nature is more than a scenic backdrop to our lives; its workings are wondrous things we don’t get to see in our small urban yard.

We love Pitcher Pond on clear, sunny days in summer – we can’t wait to go back next year – but we will never see it exactly the same way again.