Many years ago, when I was sitting with a friend at lakeside in Maclay Gardens State Park outside Tallahassee, Florida, a Great Blue Heron landed near us and posed, seemingly, especially for us. "One show per customer." my friend said.
I've never forgotten that feeling of being allowed a unique glimpse into the life of a fellow creature. And a glimpse not seen by a crowd, but only by myself or shared perhaps with one other person.
I live in an area quite close to lots of water on the west coast of Florida somewhat south of Tampa. I frequently see the large wading birds (Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and others) and Ospreys fishing. Each species' methods are different, of course, but when that beak or those lethal talons suddenly sport a glimmering fish I feel a moment of triumph as if it were I who had done the capture. I cheer for the bird and some atavistic part of myself feels nourished by the bird's success.
This morning as I headed out on my usual route to the grocery store and post office, I chanced to see an Osprey low in the sky approaching from my left. The bird had what looked like a fish clasped in its talons, and sure enough, as it flew closer I could see the glitter of scales. There wasn't much traffic so I was able to slow down and keep an eye on the bird's activity. Suddenly though, disaster struck as the weight of the fish became too much for the bird to hold. DOWN fell the fish (a good-sized one about 12 inches long!) flopping onto the roadway. A quick glance in the rear-view let me know that no one was immediately behind me so I slowed still further. A couple of on-coming autos zipped by, fortunately missing the fish. My heart was in my throat. Surely the Osprey wouldn't risk a recapture from the road. But..... would he go for it or give up the prize? Using both the rear-and side-view mirrors and craning my neck around in a way almost guaranteed to cause an accident, I watched as the Osprey circled the scene while deciding on a plan. There was a slight break in the traffic, the bird made one more small arial circle and against all odds, dropped like a stone out of the air and grabbed the fish right off the pavement! With no place to pull off the road, I had to keep moving and indeed, suddenly there was a car behind me so I'll never know if the bird managed to keep the fish a second time. The last I saw, Osprey and fish were headed off into the blue.
This all took place in a matter of seconds - much faster than I am able to type and tell.
For most of us, our daily meals are events with no such drama. Tidy canned goods, neatly wrapped cellophane packages, meat that has already seen the ministrations of the butcher in his sanitary white apron and latex gloves. Even our vegetables have been cleaned of soil and wilted leaves.
How hungry would I have to be to dash out into the traffic to retrieve a morsel of food?