I felt these birds before I saw them, a rustle of wind and a presence over my shoulder. When I looked up, I didn’t have a name for them, so I broke out into a full-body sweat, as if my every pore were calling out to them. I dubbed them the Goosebumps Bird, but later I learned that their real name is the Magnificent Frigatebird, a worthy title for a beast whose very Is-ness can make an otherwise solid human go liquid.
In the Bicentennial celebration of 1976, I attended the Boston parade dressed as a bald eagle, a very patriotic toddler indeed. I was told at the time that the bald eagle I was impersonating had gone extinct. I didn’t bother to update this knowledge until several decades later, when I was gobsmacked to stumble across one that was very much alive. It was like seeing a dodo or a woolly mammoth perched in the branches. In my eyes the bald eagle is still the picture of resilience, a creature capable of defying extinction itself, a phoenix among beasts.