During the last couple of weeks, almost every time I drive the kids to school in the morning, I see a bald eagle. Sometimes even two. I live in a very beautiful spot overlooking a lake (long story, won't be told here); and that school drive I mentioned winds right along the lake for about six kilometres - steep mountain on one side of the road, lake shore on the other (yes, you're between a rock and a wet place on that road). The eagles live in the trees on the mountainside, and swoop right over the traffic to collect their breakfast from the lake.
So yesterday, I'm driving home after a successful offspring-drop-off, when out of the corner of my eye I see the eagle, probably only ten metres or so beside my car, swooping down on the lake, snatching a fish from the water, and soaring off into the woods with it. No, I wasn't getting a good look - didn't you pay attention about the rock and the wet place? That road is windy, as well as narrow. (I also didn't take that photo - I found it here.) But as I was whizzing along the highway in a homewardly direction, I had this idiotic grin on my face, and kept shaking my head, going "Incredible! Wow! Wow, that is so incredible!" Because it is, really. I'm meeting BALD EAGLES on my ordinary morning errands.
But then I got to thinking about the word I was using. Incredible. In-credible. As in, unbelievable, lacking credibility. And I was wondering why I was calling it "incredible" to see eagles by the lake in the morning. I mean, it's not like it requires an Act of Faith for those eagles to be there, does it? So is it that I don't really believe in the existence of the eagles, that I cannot trust my eyes to have shown me the facts? Because the eagles are there, no doubt about it. No doubt, and no belief, either. They just are.
(Now, if that poor Kokanee salmon which furnished the eagle family's breakfast yesterday had indulged in a hearty bout of disbelief, that would be a little more comprehensible - in his case, it would be a simple matter of denial of facts, which might have made his last few minutes on this earth a little more bearable. There he was, unceremoniously snatched from his watery home on a November Wednesday morning, borne away through horribly choking air to an awful death... [Don't you just love nature? Me, too.] Perhaps he was telling himself the whole time that this was incredible, unbelievable, and probably just a bad dream. Let's hope so, for his poor fishy soul's sake.)
The probable fact of this improbable matter is that we use the word "incredible" to mean that we have a hard time believing our eyes, or perhaps, that our friends would find it hard to believe us if we told them what happened (unless, of course, they're the credulous sort). Because the sight of bald eagles, on late November Wednesday mornings, is not something that's just ordinary. It doesn't happen just every day, for everybody. And that's what makes it "incredible" - by which I just mean very, very exciting.
Life, the Universe, and Bald Eagles Getting Breakfast. Believe it - it happened.