Too Good To Be True



I swim in lake with an osprey.
The lake I swim is where an osprey fishes.
An osprey hunts in the lake where I swim.
The lake I swim in was carved by a glacier.
A long time ago there was just thick ice.
Now there are bass, an osprey, and me.
We are all in the water together this summer.

Once the sparkling water of the spring-fed lake was solid ice.
Now an osprey soars above the water looking for fish.
Now I am in the water swimming and floating and watching the osprey.
I have watched it hunt.
I have seen it perched in a fir on the shore and swum towards it.
I have heard it calling.

To amuse my teenage son who is beside me on a tire inner-tube and who is also watching the osprey, I flip onto my back, tuck my arms in close to my side, flap my hands on the water's surface like fins, suck in my cheeks, and make fish lips. Look, I say, bait.
He laughs.
The osprey leaves its perch and swoops toward me.
I quickly flip over and resume my breast stroke, hoping my dead salmon act does not end in a pair of talons in my scalp.
The osprey is no fool. He veers off toward the far end of the lake.

The osprey hunts on the East side of the lake near a tall line of Douglas-firs.
The osprey flies over us and we can see its head turning to look.
I swim in a glacier-carved lake with an osprey that notices me.

I swim in a deep dark lake with fish glinting and jumping.
I swim in a lake with a bird pushed to the brink of extinction by eating the fish from waters poisoned by DDT.
I swim in a clean lake stocked with bass and graced by a beautiful brown-and-white osprey that hatched from a thick-shelled egg. Whose parents hatched from a thick-shelled egg. How many generations of osprey nests failed before the egg could again withstand the once-crushing weight of a parent?

I swim in a lake of recovery.
I share a lake with an osprey.
As many times as I say this—to myself and to my friends and family—I am not convinced.
But it is true.
I just can’t believe the osprey and I are this lucky.