Yesterday was a holiday in California, at least for those of us with state and federal jobs. After lunch, Martin asked if I felt like going for a walk to a local park; it sounded good, so off we went. Since it was sunny, he wore shorts and a tank top. I, of course, was decked out in my gothy finery, complete with black parasol -- we WERE going for a stroll in the sun, after all! There were only four other people there when we arrived; we passed the playground equipment and were wandering across the baseball diamond and back toward a small grove of eucalyptus trees when we noticed the vulture.
It was on the ground, all alone, in the middle of the sunny lawn, which was a bit odd as they usually hang out in groups. It seemed to be very interested in something on the ground, and as we got closer, we realized it was having lunch -- and from the long, fluffy tail we could see each time it was picked up, we could tell that lunch was a squirrel, or rather, what was left of one.
The vulture was a really beautiful bird, with dark, glossy feathers and a very bright red neck and head (much brighter than in this pic I found). It looked really out of place in the middle of a children's park -- yet at the same time, it looked perfectly natural. 'In the midst of life, we are in death', and all that. We were truly seeing the cycle of life and death, all in one small area. As we watched, a quote from a poem about the Mesopotamian kingdom of the dead and its queen, Erishkegal, passed through my mind, and I spoke the words aloud:
"Perfect are the ways of the Underworld."