Cyrus awoke to a chilly morning in the mountains of northern Arizona. He had slept in the hogan of his young friend Dwayne. Cyrus had served with Dwayne’s father, Russell Notah in the military. They had met at Schofield barracks, on the island of O’ahu in the early nineteen forties. In the military you don’t have a first name. Over time Russell just became Notah. Russell was recruited to be a Navajo Code Talker. Cyrus was a communication specialist. The two men had become inseparable during the war, and beyond. Over the years Cyrus would travel from Hawai’i to Arizona, staying for months at a time with his friend on the Navajo reservation in Kayenta, Arizona. Notah traveled extensively before settling down back into his homeland, Arizona. In his travels he would drop in unexpectedly on Cyrus, who lived in remote Waipi’o Valley on the big island tending his ohana taro patch.
It was a quiet morning in the mountains. A raven could be heard calling in the distance. Cyrus sat up on one elbow, remaining on his side. He hand fond memories of his old friend. The fire had burned down overnight, with white ash, and a few embers of orange coals remaining. Cyrus placed a small handful of tinder, a few pine needles upon the white ash, blowing gently. A flame jumped up and consumed the needles. Cyrus then placed small pine sticks on top of the tiny fire. They began to crackle in the early morning that was absent of any other sound.
The flames flickered gently upward, offering light and warmth to the old man. As the warmth spread inside the small hogan, the cool crisp mountain air retreated back into the mountains. As the morning went along, Cyrus began his day making coffee with a pilot cracker and some butter. At some point he knew he would receive an expected guest. Dwayne had yet to wake up, for he had been up half the night talking to Sonny Ray and the old man. The black eagle circled the hogan four times and landed on a ponderosa pine nearby. The top of the tree had been struck by lightning, and had caught fire. The black eagle sat perched upon a single and blackened branch that had somehow survived the lightning strike. Cyrus would wait now. He would hope. For him, time was no longer a friend. A slow steady stream of smoke ascended up the small stove pipe, as it engaged in battle with the cold mountain air of Arizona. The huge black eagle sat quietly waiting patiently for the old man to appear. It stared down intently at the hogan, it’s eyes fixed, pupils adjusting like the zoom lens of a camera. The eagles eyes filtered through the trees and smoke, searching for any movement. The door of the hogan creaked open slowly as the old man, wrapped in a blanket stepped outside, and began a search of his own. The black eagle perched silently above, now cried out; it’s piercing black eyes detecting movement. Cyrus squinted his eyes and began to scan the tree tops.
A smile slowly came over his face, though not apparently surprised to see the large bird staring down at him. “Good morning old friend, I trust your journey was a safe one. Come on down, so you can eat.” The black eagle issued a quiet chirping reply, and leapt from it’s charcoaled perch. Cyrus held his gloved hand up, allowing the predator to land. The black eagle landed firmly. It sat comfortable, staring intently at the old man. Cyrus placed a small strip of raw elk meat on his gloved hand. The black eagle immediately clamped down on the raw meat, and began to eat ravenously. The eagle looked up at the old man for a moment, and then continued to consume the elk meat.