Loving Creatures - Making Connections

    Monday, October 29, 2007, 9:49 AM [General]

    Warrior’s Rest - Making Connections

    By Thomas H. Franz

     

    A phone call on a Friday; a mild fall afternoon, the boys are home from school, bored and looking for attention. Alan and Chris, fatherless, mentored and befriended, asked for a movie. I fetched them up and to their surprise, turned down a dead-ending Double Oak Road, explaining that it was too early for a movie. We had a little over an hour before dusk to take an adventurous quick hike, then, get a bite to eat before the show. They agreed to my plan and we experienced a thrill, which led Chris on the larger trail to become an Eagle Scout.


    The paved Double Oak Road ended at a hunter’s parking spot. There was a fork leading one way to an abandoned farm road, along which was a makeshift hunting camp with a steep trail winding down to the creek. The other fork was an old historic road called Parkers Creek Road. It was unpaved and encroached by woods and fallen trees. The plan was to go down Parkers Creek Road and return by way of the hunter’s camp farm road. It was about a three mile round trip.

    We hiked quickly and quietly hoping to spot deer and turkey. Aside from turkey scratching in the roadbed, we saw neither. As we descended toward the lower terrain, I had hoped we would hear the sounds of the wetland. There were no sounds, complete silence! The bog came into view to our right and we looked over the area formed by a long beaver dam containing tall poles of dead trees. We looked across the expanse beyond a high-wire power line, spotting something higher in a tree. A huge nest; at a quarter mile distance away, it appeared to be five foot wide and six feet deep. We had no idea of what it could have been, so we noted it for another hike later on.


    Dusk was coming upon us and something seemed not right here. It was too quiet. There were no birds or insect sounds. It was eerie. We continued down to the creek to the old spooky pilings remaining from the old Parkers Creek Bridge.1 We shivered in the eeriness of the place and then I spotted it; it was on the top of a dead pole, facing away from us, a hunter. 2


    I whispered, “Loook!” and it turned slowly toward us... spreading its huge wings full length, staring at us before lurching slowly, gracefully for the sky.


    Birds and insects came alive as we thought about where we were. This was Warriors Rest, a stopping place for the Susquahannock Tribe 3 in route to make war in Southern Maryland; and the gift came to mind! The totem pole; a pole topped with a wing spread eagle hovering over us all, hovering over our nation’s flag. 4


    The Eagle we saw was Golden Brown. We would see it again with two others. It would see us again and remember!

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    A Sunday afternoon on a cold and sunny winter day, Alan, Chris, Joe and I fast paced our stride down the gravel service road of the 500,000 Volt transmission line heading south toward Parkers Creek. Three quarters of the way down our trek, while we had stopped for a short breather, a hawk signaled us. We listened and behind us in the distance came the sound of an all terrain vehicle. We appreciated our friendly hawk and waited... forewarned of pending trouble.


    A local hunter, concerned about his territorial exploits, came to warn us off with stories about packs of wild dogs with strong words and a show of his high-powered rifle encased on the side of the vehicle. We told him of our intentions to explore a nest we saw on another occasion and he angrily proceeded on down the road to circle up on an adjacent ridge where he could watch us.


    We approached the last stanchion holding the high-tension wires before they swing over the swampy bog a great distance to the other side. We searched to the right in the trees, and looked higher than the wires. We did not see the same sight as we saw before. We had seen a huge nest in the fork of an inverted tripod of branches. It had all changed!


    A recent winter ice storm had tested both man and beast. Nature had taken its toll! All three branches broke by the weight of ice and left the nest up heaved and at the top of the tree. Scurrying through brambles, we noted that the tree was on a steep hillside. Commencing toward the upper side we picked up many artifacts of feathers and bones shaken from the nest during the storm. The nest was as large as we had estimated on our first sighting. Standing in a raised position up side of the nest, we could see hopping movement. There was a large young bird floundering back and forth within the nest. 5


    The “Wow” moment changed drastically to an “Ah Ha” moment when, out of the corner of my eye, in an opening in foliage and background of blue sky, a creature’s eye, with head turned to meet my eye; sighting us from a quarter mile away as through a hole in the ceiling; spotted by a Bald Eagle in full flight.


    Little did I know! We were now trespassing with evidence in our pockets. A protected species revered by many peoples with absolute rights to our plunder; unwary criminals subject to attack on all sides. I cried, “OK guys, take cover with close branches over your heads until we see what happens next.”


    A lesson we learned, to our utmost surprise, Eagles are not much like those of our supposed human adversaries. It became clear to us as the situation evolved. The sharp-eyed creature that spotted us returned to the nest and hovering there, gave a guttural expression, answered by another in a tree not a hundred yards away. The nest guarded all the time as we approached it.We now expected trouble!


    At this time, we spotted in the distance, coming from the Parkers Creek Bog area, three more large birds. I at first thought they might be hawks taking advantage of the Eagles’ plight, to make an attack. The Eagles response was immediate. They rose up and faced their foes. However, to our surprise, there was not contact. They played like friendly fighter pilots practicing maneuvers.


    Our Golden Brown friend had saved our day. The Eagle family had bonded with us. They gave us a celebration show that we would never forget. I say this now in hindsight, as our next encounter with this Eagle family tells it all.

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    Mid morning on bright Saturday Spring day, Alan, Chris and I headed once more to Parkers Creek. We had no specific plans other than to look around and see if we could cross the Creek, to find the ridges where hunting was good for the Susquehannocks. A short distance from the old pilings of the Parkers Creek Bridge location, we heard a rustling in the reeds of the bog. On investigation, we could see nothing.


    At the Creek we turned east, down creek to find a crossing; did not have to go far, as hunters conveniently exploited small trees and had three haphazardly placed for a rickety crossing. The boys saw snakes in the water lapping at the trees and were already getting wet feet in their minds. I said I would go first as I was heavier and it would test the small trees. The trees and snakes were not the problem!


    I was on my third step out on the trees and an extraordinary thing happened. It quickly caused me to loose my focus and balance and I quickly backed off the trees, those three steps… never forgotten. A large shadow came over me as I started crossing, my balance wavering as I looked up and saw two adult Bald Eagles, between the sun and me, catching my attention. Backing off, I yelled, “Boys, let’s go!”

     

    We ran at top speed to the Bog where we heard the rustling sound and looked more carefully. Still we found nothing in that area. Settled down now, we returned to successfully make our crossing of the creek, about sixteen feet wide at that point. A sigh of relief as we bid the water snakes adieu. Trudging west, up stream to the old Parkers Creek Road, we climbed the hill that gave heavy-laden horse drawn wagons trouble when wet on days long past. Half way up the hill, we saw a shady spot at two large oak trees where we hunkered down for our lunch of summer sausage, block cheese and juice.

     

    It was a loud lunch, with the boys jabbering away about many things. All of a sudden, the unexpected happened and it became very loud, bringing silence and awe to our little group. A sound I had never heard before. From over the tree tops a large sound traveling from the bottom of the hill, to over our heads and on up the hill, a sound with changing pitch as it traveled. Two long, loud screams and when over-head, we saw it was one of our Eagles. We had never heard an Eagle Yell before this event. It was tremendously loud. I can only describe it by painting a picture. Picture a paint stirrer pulled quickly across a picket fence amplified at extreme volume.

     

    In the midst of awe and wonder, we sat and pondered what we were experiencing. It was a celebration! We were present as the Eagles celebrated the first flight of their young one, which we had heard in the bog as it set down to rest; Celebration shared with us, in remembrance of our bonding.


    Chris, at that point must have thought, “Joe did it! I am going to become an Eagle Scout;” and he did! 6


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    1 – Parker’s Creek Bridge: I once happened upon an old geezer, who struck up a conversation. He spoke of this old wooden bridge with clear remembrance. He apparently was on the work crew that put in the road and built the bridge many years before. He said it was used for a while but was replaced by a new road running south in the county, as many farmers were having trouble on the Parker Creek Road route. It was a dirt road and had extremely steep hills. When wet, the horses had trouble with heavy loaded wagons slipping on a muddy hill. They had been moving tobacco to boat dock in the area of what is now Dares Beach; a road there, recently renamed to reflect this history. The new name is Dares Wharf Road.

    .

    2 - Hunters: Apparently, when an Eagle is on the hunt in an area, all nature has reverence and becomes silent. I do not know this as a fact but have witnessed it on this occasion. Eagles hunt over very large areas. I was in Dares Beach one day, and my mind flashed a picture of “The Wizard of Oz” and Toto carried across the sky. I saw an Eagle headed toward Parkers Creek carrying what appeared to be a large ground hog in his talons. I was walking at Parkers Creek one day with an old friend and we spotted a Bald Eagle circling in an up draft. It circled and circled until eventually it went out of sight. My friend told me they do this to make it an easy hop across the Chesapeake Bay.

     

    3 - Susquehannock Tribe: Susquehannock appears to have been an Algonquin name meaning the "people of the Muddy River". Located on the Susquehanna River and its branches at the north end of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, using canoes for transport, war parties routinely attacked the Delaware tribes along the Delaware River and traveled down the Susquehanna where they terrorized the Nanticoke, Conoy, and Powhatan living on the Chesapeake Bay.

     

    4 – Our Nation’s Flag: As I spoke on behalf of Joe in his Eagle Court of Honor with a “Trail to Eagle” talk at our church, referencing totem poles, I asked if anyone, upon looking around the room, could spot a totem pole. Only one person; a uniformed Cub Scout raised his hand and he pointed to the American Flag pole. Little Cub Scouts continually amaze me. I took a group of eight cubs with their leaders to see Parkers Creek. We had no trouble except at a short rest spot; one little guy managed to get temporarily comfortable on an anthill. Overall, they were quite prepared. Arriving at the outlook to the Eagle nest, they pulled out their binoculars. When arriving at the creek, there was an open area in use by a group of raccoons in the act usually performed during mating season. Out came the cameras! They are future Boy Scouts learning to “Be Prepared” for ‘whatever’.

     

    5 – Nest: Eagles build their nests with wood the size of walking sticks. This encourages their young to develop sure footedness with strong talons. The average size of a Bald Eagle nest is five feet wide and six feet deep. Families stay together in the same nest for two or more years.

     

    6 – Eagle Scouts: The highest Rank in Boy Scouts awarded to Joseph Niedzielski 11/30/1993 and Christian Wagner 3/21/1999, both from Troop 430 at St. John Vianney Church in Prince Frederick, Maryland.

     

    Note about the Author: Thomas H. Franz lives in Dares Beach. His full profile is located at http://qlx3.org/gpinvestment. You can learn more about his family at http://www.squidoo.com/goldenprosperity/. Watch me morph:

    http://www.youwild.org/personal/TySDEhbn9ONmpeAxumCQp3AtMjI1OTA-

    A TRIBUTE TO MY WIFE 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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