It was 60º and sunny on a Sunday just two weeks after the historic mid-April blizzard. The trail around Bde Maka Ska (formerly known as Lake Calhoun) was filled with friends walking and talking. Ice covered the lake except for a few inches along the shoreline, a few more inches on the southeast side. Intricate crystals created a textured edge that mirrored where the ice had recently pulled away from the shore in the northwest corner.
On Monday, the ice had pulled back from the shore to cover just about two thirds of the lake. Two bald eagles were perched at the edge of this ice island, bright white heads shinning in the sun. They were relaxed, letting people enjoy their grandeur and taking in the scene like everyone else hanging out at the lake after work. I was surprised to see them in the city. I know they frequent the Mighty Mississippi but didn’t know they like to hang out on city lakes.
I took it personally. Eagles are a totem for me. They tend to show up during major life transitions or just before an expansion in my life. The number one card in the Medicine Cards deck is The Eagle. I drew it just before entering my first and only sweat lodge ceremony. Eagles flew with me on the train ride to Chicago (during a snow storm so maybe snow storms are totems too?) just before I moved there 13 years ago. They make their presence known in the sky and in images.
And here they are again. Perched at the edge of the melting ice. On the lake I now live on. A couple of days after I move in. As if to say, “welcome home, sister.” They may have been saying other things to other people on that evening stroll along the lake, but that’s what they said to me. And I do feel welcome. And I do feel at home.
On Tuesday there was no ice on the lake. On Wednesday, the sailboats came out. Maybe it’s the start of a local Wednesday evening regatta like the one that sailed from South Shore Yacht Club in Milwaukee.
That was the fast transition from winter to spring here in Minneapolis. Four days from an ice covered lake to sailboats sailing like it’s already summer. This was my experience of my new neighborhood and the newly named lake in it, Bde Maka Ska – pronounced be DAY ma KA ska. It’s Dakota. The Dakota word for bald eagle is anuakasaa.