This past March, early in the month, on a Saturday, the day before a big snowstorm, I decided to get outside. This time of year you need to get cold and walk on snow and ice or you’ll go stale, was my thinking. At the end of the driveway I put on snowshoes and set out for Echo Lake.

The day was relatively still, little wind, the sky clouded over but with a blue backing. Always a bit nervous on the ice – a colleague went through several years ago, was rescued, but not before being utterly terrified – I followed the shore a ways, taking out my camera from time to time to capture the view or something interesting close at hand.

A nearly perfect square in the ice with six or seven dead fish left lying about caught my attention. As I walked beyond the abandoned fishing hole, I kept glancing back, hoping to see an eagle swoop down for some frozen sushi.

I left the ice near the end of a small point that pokes into the northern end of the lake. Making my way toward the camp road that would lead me home, I spied what looked like a bundle of dark clothes in the snow. Drawing nearer I was stunned to discover a dead eagle.

My emotions ran the gamut: fear, sadness, amazement. I took a few photos then headed home to call the game warden to report my find. Through the local police department, then the state police, I connected with Game Warden David Simmons, who said he would drive down from Hancock to retrieve the bird (the warden covering Mount Desert Island was on vacation).

While waiting for him, my wife, Peggy, and I returned to the eagle to take more photos. We didn’t touch it, but did gently blow some light snow off its head. We both remarked on its impressive claws and its overall fierce grace.

I met Warden Simmons on the camp road and led him to the bird. When he picked up the eagle in his bare hands and started to look for signs of how it died, I felt another mix of reactions, including admiration, especially when he opened the wings, and surprise, at how flat the bird was, where it had seemed plump on the ground. I appreciated that the warden was doing his job, but was somewhat taken aback by how brusquely he handled the creature, poking and prodding.

Back at his truck, Warden Simmons ran a metal detector over the body to see if there was any lead, which apparently there was not. Then he put the bird in the back and drove off.

Tempting as it was, I read no symbolism into my find, no death of the American spirit and whatnot. Here was just a magnificent bird of prey lying in the snow, found and lost.

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