Fly Me To The Moon
The Center for Birds of Prey sprawls on 152 marsh-front acres just north of Charleston, SC. Its mission is to rehabilitate injured birds and provide shelter for birds born in captivity, ones that can no longer survive in the wild. Walking around the site, evidence of the Center’s good work is everywhere in the hawks, bald eagles, owls and peregrine falcons that squawk, flap and soar around their airy homes.
The birds live in wooden open-air buildings scattered throughout the forest. Alice worked on the design of those smart little structures, thinking through the needed slats in the roof, choosing the proper caging, and deciding how best to integrate areas for people into the habitat of the birds. The buildings float along a meandering path that opens onto a panoramic Lowcountry view of swaying grass and salty creeks. Those forest green rooms merge with the landscape like they’ve been there forever. Smart. Sensitive. Perfect.
MTM and I stopped to survey the product of Alice’s design vision, grabbing shade in the smothering heat wherever we could. I wasn’t really interested in the birds. Not at first. But, we happened to arrive in time for a flight demonstration. Because we were already drenched in our own juices, we decided to watch for a bit.
The Mississippi Kite was my favorite raptor. In the wild, it noshes on dragonflies and other bugs, prey it catches with its feet and transfers to its beak, “on the wing” or in flight. Its flight pattern resembles that of a fluttering kite, its narrow wings spanning long across its body, allowing it to hover, dive and soar without flapping its wings.
I watched the Kite dip and climb through the air, marveling at how it always came back to its handler. Regardless of the majestic heights it attained, it was grounded in its notion of coming home again.
When Alice flys away, she won’t be coming back. That doesn’t take away from watching her soar. There was a point when she wavered, when I thought she might not fly. It was one of the hardest conversations of my life to push her from her perch, to fight my selfish longing for her to stay, to insist that she spread her wings and take a leap.
Few will relish watching Alice take wing more than me. Godspeed, my Dear, as you live the quote you once gave me: It is never too late to be what you might have been. – George Eliot
This post is part of a series that celebrates my friendship with Alice Guess as she moves to Baton Rouge, LA. If this is your first visit, please click here and read forward. Thank you for reading and sharing your stories here.