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I remember my first eagle ceremony when I turned nine. The first eagle you get is always declawed, which I always thought was pretty inhumane, but it was a good way to ease into caring for the birds. My eagle (named Baldy, because I wasn’t a terribly clever child) was already quite old when I received him (he was a rescue eagle, luckily) but I did have him until I was 16. I don’t know if I was more excited about getting my drivers license that year, or my new eagle! You should have seen the party we had when I got him, too! Grilled hot dogs and fire works and lemonade…. obviously I named my beautiful new eagle Freedom. He’s too big to keep inside anymore, unfortunately, but we’ve got a pretty comfortable roost for him on our apartment’s balcony.

Ah, yes, the eagle ceremony! My Justice and I remember his quite well. (They had just come out with telepathic link transplants when I got him, which is how I know he remembers it.) Our celebration was quite modest, compared to Freedom’s—apple pie under a cloudless summer sky as we signed our Declaration of Interdependence. I still have the inked and talon-pierced document hanging on my wall.

what is this 

Get out Canada

I was so scared during my pet eagle ceremony I almost threw up. But Stonewall Jackson and I have been best friends ever since. My dad and grandfather built a really massive roost behind the house for my eagle and my sisters’ eagles. Stonewall always waits for me when I get home from class since schools are getting so over protective and strict these days and won’t allow eagles indoors. Which just goes to show how much we’re bubble wrapping kids today. Back in the day, if you couldn’t handle a few stitches because you pissed off the wrong kid’s eagle, you had to just man up and learn your lesson!

Ooo, I never miss a chance to tell this story! I had a rather unusual first eagle ceremony. The traditional giant American flag that you wave around to summon your eagle had been severely damaged the week prior (a ceremony that had not gone according to plan, but the child only suffered minor talon wounds. The flag took the brunt of the attack).  Anyway, I couldn’t use the normal flag so we had to search ALL OVER for one suitable for eagle summoning. Unfortunately the stripes weren’t the correct shade of patriotic red so everyone was worried an eagle wouldn’t show up at all.  I had to stand in the middle of that wheat field, the wind creating amber waves out of it, shaking that flag in the air for over three hours.  Everyone was just about to give up when suddenly Patriot appeared out of nowhere!  He came to me so quickly it was like he was apologizing for being late.  And we’ve been together ever since.

Some people think it’s excessive to have two eagles.  But what can I say, I’m a two eagles kind of guy.  Well, I can say, “You must be a terrorist to call me out over my excesses,” but I digress.  We don’t have many open fields around here, so I got Liberty by waving my flag atop a decommissioned WWII aircraft carrier.  I was kicking a couple of boxes of tea into the harbor for good measure, and there she was.  I loved her so much I repeated the process a year later and got young Colbert here.  It’s hard work, raising two eagles, but I have two shoulders, after all.  Besides, I know that the secret to happy and healthy eagles is plenty of Bud Light.

Oh man, the eagle ceremony. I was a weird fucking kid, okay, so I was totally sure that the eagle ceremony wasn’t just going to net me my eagle and deepen the mystical bond between a citizen and their country, I thought I was going to get to turn into an eagle too. So me and my mom and my dad and my little brother are all standing in the old civil war battleground, surrounded by the ghosts of our fallen soldiers, and all and the problem here — it’s not usually a problem because I make sure to shave my beard off twice a day, three times on sundays — was that I am, actually, born on the fourth of July. So it wasn’t just one eagle that showed up, it was pretty much every big old patriotic warbird in Missouri, all flapping around confused and pissed off, their innate senses of direction completely fucked up by the way firecracker babies warp America’s natural system of ley lines. And I was six, so grabbed the flag and ran with it over my shoulders, rippling in the wind, thinking it was going to turn into wings for me and I would go be an eagle with all the other eagles. Instead I just got mobbed by a freaked-out mess of nationalistic avians who all weighed more than I did. I lost half my nose and my whole left arm and spent most of fourth grade in reconstructive surgery getting machine guns welded on to the shattered remains of my ulna. Completely missed my little brother’s eagle ceremony, which I will always regret, but it was all worth it to have met Columbia. I never did turn into an eagle on the outside, but I like to think those long hours in the hospital, feeding her rubbing alcohol and my own blood, have made me an eagle in my heart. 

I usually never reblog long things, but this is worth reading, I swear.

Ah, see, in Canada things are very different. In Northern Ontario, for example, you never quite know what you’re going to get. Ralph, my beaver, is a very standard 20 lbs, and she came to me quite easily during my Oh Canada Calling. A friend of mine, though, ended up bonded to an 800lb bull moose (she named him Bambi, she was a weird kid).

You’re so lucky you got Ralph! I had such issues during my Oh Canada Calling, and wound up with a pair of grice.

My eagle ceremony was weird. First of all, my parents felt I was too young to get my first eagle so I was the last one of my classmates to get an eagle. My parents are hippies so they got really into the spiritual aspects of it. Like, with my first eagle, I wasn’t allowed to get the telepathic implant, they wanted me to do it “natually” so I had to sit and meditate with Artemis for the entire morning. Luckily she was awesome and creating a natural telepathic bond pretty much happened organically. Of course we had some of the traditional parts of the ceremony, the waving of the American flags while the guests chanted “USA USA USA”. But other than that it was a pretty relaxed eagle ceremony. 
I’m glad my parents gave me the opportunity to develop a natural telepathic bond with my eagle because it’s good experience, but with my current eagle, Brunhilde, I went ahead and got the implants because I’m so busy with school that I didn’t have time to do the proper meditation. Brunhilde is a scientific type so she thinks the implant was a good call.

Ugh growing up in New Zealand is worse. You just stand outside and yell Xena war cries until a Hobbit pops their head up over the nearest hill and politely tells you to keep it the hell down.

If you’re lucky, a Kiwi ambles up, but it’s basically like having a football with a handle for a pet.

This is why I moved to America…

getting my american citizenship was both amazing and a bit traumatic. you have to do a lot of work before they will let you have an eagle ceremony, and the older you are the more difficult it can be. but after I passed all the tests and received my flag, my canada goose, laura secord, and I went to a shut-down auto plant and waited. eventually uncle sam, my eagle swooped out of the sky, and after a brief struggle, killed laura secord. it was sad, as we had been together for so long, but everyone knows canada geese are assholes, so I got over it quickly. because of my age we had to get the implants, but uncle sam and I are quite happy together.

Our family, well, the common word you’d have for us is “hillbillies,” but I don’t mind.  We’ve been living in our part of the Alleghenies for a long, long time, and my Pa’s family in particular holds to the old values.  Of course, this was a while back, so we didn’t have the link, but I don’t think the old man would have approved if they’d been around.  Anyway, he was determined that I would do things the right way, even though we both knew he was pretty sure I would be a disappointment to him.  I didn’t like to fish or hunt (to his shame, I was gunshy); I hated camping, and I wasn’t good at swimming.  Still, I was bound and determined to go for my eagle like our family had always done it.

He took me up into the Laurel Highlands, past where stupid old British General Braddock got himself shot in the back and where George Washington built and surrendered his first fort to the French and their Indian allies (though the enemy never got his cannon because George hid them).  We got to the end of the track our family had always taken up into the mountains, and Pa gave me a panic button if I wanted to quit.  He’d come and get me then, but he’d give up on me, too.  That was another thing we knew without saying.

Long story short, I was coming down a hill my second day, worn out because I’d gotten little sleep in the cold, and upset because I hadn’t seen or heard any birds or animals let alone an eagle (I wasn’t what you would call an observant kid) when I tripped and fell.  Down I went, and tumbled.  I stopped on the bank of a stream,

I had my first aid badger from Girl Scouts, and supplies in my back pack, so I soaked my sprained ankle in the icy creek, then bound it up.  By the time I found a branch long and strong enough to lean on, it was coming on sunset.  I had two more days before Pa started to track me.  I wanted at least to be partway back before he found me. 

I had given up on that eagle.  He’d have to wait for my sisters Kim and Dani to get big enough.  They’d find theirs; they were better in the woods than me already.  I was just a daydreamer, someone who never had any sense.  Put me to shelling peas or doing dishes and I’d take twice as long as anyone else, because I’d be telling myself stories.  That’s what I did that night, to keep my mind off my pain.  I told myself stories of brave girls who found their eagles and went off to be soldiers (girls weren’t allowed to be in the Army then) or joined the FBI (we weren’t allowed to be agents, either).  If the owls who hooted or the deer who drank at the stream liked the story, that was good, too.

I must have dozed off sometime before dawn.  When I woke, a golden eagle stood by my hand.  Not a bald eagle, like all those in my family, or like my friends’ parents had, or like people had on TV.  A golden eagle, a big fellow with a trout in his beak.  He dropped it on my knee.

At first I couldn’t breathe.  When I could talk, I said, “Thanks, but I have jerky, and peanut butter, and celery, and … things.  You eat it.”  And he did.

When Pa saw me limping on the track three days from where he’d dropped me, dirty and crazy-looking with twigs in my hair and no eagle on my shoulder, he stopped and looked at me, his weathered face like stone.  Then Anthony Wayne, his eagle, began to raise hell on his shoulder as Tecumseh glided down from his tree top.  We’d found it was easier for him to fly ahead and wait for me than for him to ride on my shoulder, at least while I had one bum foot.  This time, though, for the purposes of meeting family, he settled on my shoulder.

I describe things all the time, but I can never describe the look on my Pa’s face.  I only know that he reached a hand out to Tecumseh, who stretched out and touched his fingers with his beak.  Finally Pa said, “It’s been right in front of me all along.  I’ve been trying to make you a strong member of the family, and you are strong, but you’re also a medicine woman.  A dreamer.  And this is a dreamer’s eagle.”

“His name’s Tecumseh,” I said.

Tecumseh fluffed himself up with pride.

Pa grinned.  “Now let’s see if I can get you two home.  Your mother is going to read me out for letting you into the woods alone.”  He put two fingers to his mouth and whistled.  One of my uncles and two of my aunts walked out of the woods, their own eagles on their shoulders.  Tecumseh and I were going home like royalty.

Did Tamora Pierce just fucking add her own ‘how I got my pet eagle’ story?

What a time to be alive, folks.