Jim nodded toward the mountains in the distance. “See those specks flying up there?”
Beth squinted. A pair of birds circled, so far away they were tiny as ants. “Are those…vultures?” Her stomach did a slow flip. Had someone or something else been killed up in the hills?
“Nope. Those are eagles.” He shaded his eyes with one hand. “I’d say bald eagles.”
“That they’re bald eagles and not goldens? Nah.” Chuckling, Jim dropped his hand. “But I know bald eagles tend to range up that way…near the Green River. I see ‘em up there a lot…soaring and gliding. I had a Shoshone friend once who told me eagles are considered of the earth by not in it…kind of spiritual overseers.” He watched them for a few minutes in silence as he rubbed his fingertips along his jaw, obviously deep in thought.
In turn, Beth studied Jim. She supposed it wasn’t exactly ironic that father and son would both have an appreciative affinity for flying objects. Had Jim ever taken Justin kite flying?
He sighed deeply and returned his focus to Beth. “You know as high as they are, they can still spot a trout flashing too close to the surface just begging to be their next meal? They’ll glide up in the sky for hours waiting for it…or they’ll set up in a tree perfectly still makin’ sure their shadow doesn’t fall across the river. Soon as they see that sparkle of scales, they’ll be on that trout like a lightning bolt.”
“They just wait? They don’t go hunting?”
Jim shrugged, more with his face than his shoulders. “That is hunting for them. Never seen an animal with so much patience as an eagle.” He gazed into the distance again. “I reckon the view from up there likely makes just as good a reward for all that patience as the meal itself.”
A breathy laugh escaped Beth’s lips. “Heights kind of make me dizzy.”
He swung his gaze back in her direction and winked. “Guess it’s a good thing you have your feet on the ground then. But whatever view you like best, patience earns the reward in the end.”
She stared at the eagles. From so far away they barely seemed to move. They appeared to have just been suspended against the sky.
“I think I’ll go pester Mary about baking some oatmeal cookies.” Jim pushed off the fence and tipped his hat at Beth. “Justin’s in the cow barn pulling a calf.”
Beth stared after Justin’s father as he ambled to the house. His gait was steady if a little slow and tired. Before he opened the back door, he tossed a casual wave in her direction. She raised her hand but he was already stepping through the door. A chill tickled the base of Beth’s spine.
Patience…not even close to her strong suit. But if she listened to Jim McGee, very rewarding to enjoy the view while she waited. If only she knew what she was waiting for.
She turned her head and stared at the cow barn. What exactly was pulling a calf?