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Essay: Another Pair of Eyes

As we slide the canoe into the Betsie River, I tie a bandana around my hair and pick up a paddle.  The water looks high but before I comment, my husband says, “Water is low; I wonder if they’ve lowered the dam.”

“Water is low?” I wonder, glad I didn’t remark otherwise.  Staring down at the muscular stems of water lilies, I remember Mary Oliver’s poem—how she says the blossoms look perfect but when she gets up close, each has a defect. 

I am trying to recall the final stanza, how the imperfections add up to a larger perfection, when Dick says,  “Stop paddling please; I want to look at that bird in the pine.”

I hadn’t noticed any bird.  “I think it’s a young eagle,” he says.  “Can you see it?”

An hour later, we anchor the canoe to a log and eat our lunch of apples, bread, and cheese.  While I’m watching a muskrat swim across the river, Dick grabs the binoculars. 

I peer into the sky, wondering what he sees—grateful for this other pair of eyes that open my own. 

And I wish I could always appreciate our differences as much as I do right now. 

“Rough-legged hawk,” he says.