Three weeks or so after Justin's death, I visited the Oscar Scherer State Park in nearby Osprey, Florida for a crossing. The park is one of the last bulwarks of the threatened Florida Scrub Jay, a curious, friendly and beautiful bird that would often hang around my crossing events. I followed the Red Trail that is cut between flat plains of palmetto bushes, sparsely dotted with pine trees. With no shade and no clouds, the sun was brutal. But I noticed a magnificent bald eagle shadowing me, soaring between the tallest pine trees as I hiked. At the western edge of the park, at the far end of the palmetto barrens, there was a dense jungle of oak and palm trees. It had been my intention to disappear under the jungle canopy for the crossing, away from the sun. But I felt the eagle had a purpose for following me and I didn’t want to discourage it. I stopped at a bench along the edge of the trail to do the crossing, next to the jungle but still exposed. The bald eagle settled on one of the top branches of a nearby pine tree and calmly watched. The eagle flew away when I was finished with the crossing. I had a notion about the eagle, so I got out my iPod and asked. “Was there a significance to the bald eagle that was here?”
“It was Justin,” my father confirmed.
“Why did he come as an eagle?”
“That’s what he wanted.”
“Oh. Good for him.”
“He has much to learn,” my father concluded. (continued below...)