Soar with Evan Englewood Eaglet over the western United States as he grows to discover the true meaning of life. Evan has many struggles as he grows, and he is able to overcome them all with the help of the Great Eagle.M
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The Path to Freedom
By Skybird Lacey, Charles Jaskiewicz
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 Skybird Lacey
All rights reserved.
Evan Englewood Eaglet had a very hard time getting out of his shell. Peck! Peck! Peck! Even using the egg tooth on the tip of his beak, piercing such a thick, firm shell was a monumental task that took every ounce of strength he had. Above him, he could feel the warmth of his mother, who was taking such good care of him. The round, dull white egg finally started to crack after four days of trying to get out of his shell.
"It's my baby!" exclaimed his mother to his father, Jeffrey. Josephine Jetter Eagle was very excited about her eggs this year. The past two nesting attempts had ended in disaster. The year before, a pair of hawks attacked the nest and destroyed the young eaglets. The year before that, a very harsh winter made it extremely hard to find fish, and her young had starved to death.
"We must pray to the Great Eagle Spirit," she said to her mate, Jeffrey. And so it was that the two of them prayed as the sun rose over the North Cascades and Olympic Mountains. They watched as the pink sky gave birth to a golden glow over the purple mountain peaks topped with snow. The smell of the tall pine trees filled the air, and it was going to be a clear, sunny day. The white, fluffy clouds were emerging above the golden glow as the sun began to appear fully. Their silhouette showed the fact that Jeffrey's body was slightly smaller than hers.
"I must go and find food for us," he said as they finished praying. As he took off, his wings spanned seven feet across, and the sun glistened off of his back while he flew out over Puget Sound. Josie could see his white head and white tail from high up on her perch in the tall pine. He had always been a good provider for her. He could spot a fish from over two miles away and dive after it at a speed of sixty miles per hour. His talons were strong, sharp, and quick to kill his prey. His father had been a skilled hunter, and he had taught his son well.
Josie heard the chirps below her brood patch and looked down to see the first of her two eggs cracking open. Her heart leaped for joy as she saw Evan's head pop out of his shell. As he emerged from the shell, he lay exhausted, covered with smoky-white down feathers. He was helpless with his yolk sac still attached to his belly. His big, black puffy eyes protruded from his head as he lay with his beak curled to his tail. It had been four days since he had started pecking his way out of his shell, and he was worn out. He could not lift his head or eat yet. His mother kept him close under her brood patch to keep him warm. Next to him lay another egg, not yet hatched.
Jeffrey arrived at the nest carrying several fish. Josephine was very grateful. "What an excellent provider you are!" she said.
Peck! Peck! Peck! How excited she was to hear yet another baby on the way! It would be a few days before it would hatch.
Jeffrey looked at Evan in the nest. "He's beautiful!" he exclaimed. "I will teach him how to hunt and fish."
Jeffrey tore off a piece of fish with his beak and lovingly shared it with Josephine. They enjoyed a wonderful dinner together.
They spent the next few days taking turns keeping watch over the nest, anticipating the hatching of the next egg. Jeffrey regularly brought sprigs of pine to the nest. Sometimes Josephine brought grasses soaked in water.
Then the second egg hatched.
"Look, honey. Evan has a sister now!" exclaimed Josephine.
Jeffrey looked down in the nest to see the new eaglet. "The Great Eagle has been very good to us this year!"
And so it was that Judy was born, and they prayed to give thanks to the Great Eagle again. Within a few weeks, the young eaglets were covered with gray down feathers. Josephine and Jeffrey fed them tenderly through their beaks. They took turns hunting and fishing and feeding the young ones. Evan and Judy grew up together in the most loving circumstances parents could provide. They grew to almost adult height and weight in a matter of months.
Then one day, Jeffrey took Evan and Judy up to a high branch and said, "It is now time for you both to learn how to fly. Okay, son, fluff up your wings and jump down." Evan fluffed up his wings and jumped off of the branch. Kerplunk! He landed on a soft pine branch below.
"Help, Father!" he exclaimed. "I'm falling too much!" Then Judy fell right behind him. Jeffrey flew down below to the spot where they had fallen.
"Watch me, son. You have to catch the wind below your wings." He spread his great wings and waited for the wind to catch him. Then he pushed off the branch with his feet and flew out above them.
Evan watched with awe, and he spread his wings. He waited until he felt the wind blow under them, and then he pushed hard with his feet. The next thing he knew, the wind was carrying him. "I can fly!" he yelled. "Give it a try, Judy!"
Then Judy did the same thing. "Ooh! Whee!" she yelped as she caught the wind.
"I can see for miles!" exclaimed Evan.
"This is wonderful!" replied Judy, and together they flew in circles around the high pine tree. Evan had never been so happy! It was exhilarating to feel the wind under his wings and to be able to soar to majestic heights.
For a few days, they tested their new wings until Jeffrey thought that it was time to teach them to hunt. He had them fly out over the water. "Do you see that dark spot in the water?" he asked. "Watch what I do." He then dove quickly, splashing down into the water and coming up with a fish.
Then Evan looked down and spotted another fish. Down, down, down he went. Smack! He hit the water surface and sprawled all over. This was going to take some learning. He managed to pull himself up and fly back to the nest. Judy came back with a fish, and he was very discouraged.
"Don't worry, son. You'll get the hang of it eventually," said Jeffrey. "Point your head down more, and it will go better. Rest up for a while, and we'll try it again later."
Later on, they went out again, and Evan spotted another fish. This time, he pointed his head straight down, and he braced himself for the impact of the water. Whoosh! Down he went and grabbed the fish with his sharp talons!
"Look, Father!" he said as he came out of the water.
"Good job, son!" said Jeffrey, who also had a fish. "Let's go home and eat." So they went back to the nest and gave thanks to the Great Eagle.
Evan enjoyed the fish. "I did this all by myself!" he said.
And so it was that Evan and Judy learned to hunt and fish, growing stronger each day. One day, Evan went out by himself to fish. As he saw a salmon, he pounced on it. Then, as he came up out of the cold water, a hawk swooped down and stole his fish. Evan was devastated. He went back to the nest and told his mother.
"Don't fret, son," Josephine said. "There will be other fish to catch. Have some of my fish and rest up for a while." Josephine and Jeffrey were always encouraging him.
Why? Evan said to himself. Why did the Great Eagle let this happen? He did not understand his fate. He ate some of Josephine's fish, and when he felt better, he went out again. Then he saw a bigger, better salmon than the one before, and he dove from a high point in the sky, snatching it with his powerful talons. How happy he was to be successful again!
Judy and Evan were both covered with brown feathers now and always stayed near the nest.
One day, Josephine said, "Let us take Evan and Judy to see Grandfather Eagle."
Jeffrey agreed to it, and soon they were off. They found Grandfather Eagle in his home tree a few miles away.
"Who goes there?" asked Grandfather Eagle in an old, crackly voice.
"It is Jeffrey and Josephine," said Jeffrey.
"Oh! It's been ages since I've seen you, son," replied Grandfather Eagle as he moved the branch that was blocking his view. "How are you?"
"We are well," replied Jeffrey, "and we have two children now. This is my daughter, Judy, and my son, Evan."
"Come closer," said Grandfather. So Evan and Judy perched on a branch closer to him. "Oh! Such beautiful young eaglets!" he exclaimed. "I am your grandfather, and I have been in this tree for many years. I have seen many changes over the years. There have been fewer and fewer of us over the years. First, the white man came and hunted us, and then he polluted the waters so the fish we ate kept us from laying good eggs. My great-grandfather used to tell us about the great colonies of eagles long ago, when there were thousands and thousands of eagles, and there were plenty of fish for all of us. Take good care of your eggs, you young ones, as we need all of the young we can produce. And always pray to the Great Eagle with thanksgiving, for he will always take care of you, and one day, he will take you up unto himself. There you will live forever with our forefathers in a place where there are plenty of fish that are free of the poison."
As he spoke, the sun shone brightly upon his perching branch, and he closed his heavy eyes. His white head dropped down, and Jeffrey decided that it was time to leave.
"Come, children," he said. "Let's go home now and let Grandfather get some rest."
It was summertime now, and it was very warm. Evan always cooled off by diving into the water. He was an avid hunter now and caught a couple of seagulls. He much preferred the fish, however. He could spot one from two miles away and dive and catch it.
Evan and Judy enjoyed hunting and fishing and flying around the nest. Jeffrey and Josephine taught them to be strong, brave eagles, always giving thanks to the Great Eagle. Then one day, Jeffrey decided that it was time for them to leave the nest.
"It is time now for you two to explore the country on your own," said Jeffrey. "I know that you both are strong enough now to travel, and I know that the Great Eagle will be with you no matter what happens. Let us pray to the Great Eagle."
Excerpted from The Path to Freedom by Skybird Lacey, Charles Jaskiewicz. Copyright © 2014 Skybird Lacey. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
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