“A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness”
Anyone who visits us regularly here at the Hollow surely knows that my love and adoration of one very handsome and talented Mr. Toad goes very deep. One might even go so far as to say that my heart belongs to only him, and while that is mostly right I must shockingly confess of another who I happened to meet this past summer who seems to have stolen at least a tiny corner. Someone who changed my perception and in a few tender moments taught me the real meaning of beauty. Now, before any cards of condolence or bright bouquets of flowers with warm wishes of better days find their way to poor Mr. Toad, let me explain…
You may recall our visit last summer to the Pacific Northwest Raptors where we met all kinds of interesting friends, both of the two-legged and winged variety, and launched our photo blog series “Birds Of A Feather.” We had been meaning to visit for many months as it is literally just up the road and finally found a perfect afternoon to make it happen. Our heads full of images of majestic eagles soaring in the clouds, velocious hawks diving for prey and agile owls noiselessly gliding into the trees, we anxiously parked the car and ran full speed through the parking lot to the first cage we came upon to behold our first… vulture. Really? A turkey vulture, to be exact. Now, turkey vultures aren’t usually associated with words like “elegant” or “majestic”. As I stared through the thin wires of her cage trying desperately to make sense of why she wasn’t more “eagle-like”, she almost seemed to be smiling back at me, her warm brown eyes twinkling as if she knew something that I didn’t. Yet.
Meet Jury, the most elegant and majestic bird I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Once out of her cage, and after a dazzling performance that delighted everyone in the audience, she offered to pose for some photographs in true movie-star style. Her vivid colours and delicate features suprized me, and suddenly I realized how stunning she was. Her little red face was soft and expressive and her huge personality filled her tiny body. If anyone ever once said that turkey vultures were anything less than purely superb, she was surely having none of it.
As the shutter clicked, she gracefully turned and posed, making sure all the while that her full beauty was visible as she glanced over her shoulder like any well-seasoned super-model.
Mr. Toad will attest to the pandemonium that ensues each and every time we’re out and about in the car when all of a sudden I spot a soaring dot and we’re off on another round of ” Is it an eagle?” as the sunroof swings open to gain a better view. It’s something that I just can’t seem to shake. Ever since moving to this amazing island twenty years ago and unwittingly jumping up in utter excitement at a local eatery when I spotted a seal in the harbour, much to the apathetic yawns of the “locals”, I’ve marveled at the diverse wildlife and breathtaking landscapes.
At the end of the day she came over to say goodbye to us and flew away with my heart. I can honestly tell you that now when I look up, I am no longer looking for eagles but for turkey vultures. There’s no telling how many people Jury has converted, my guess is many. Some say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I found it looking through the eyes of an amazing little turkey vulture named Jury.
Please join us again soon as we visit some more interesting new friends at the Pacific Northwest Raptors, and as always, please do leave any comments or stories you would like to share, you know how much we love them!
Until next time!