The birds are back. Our Short-toed Eagles. Four were spotted by our new caretaker yesterday, circling above our woodshed. I saw two or even three ( a distant speck that might have been a third one) a week or so back, which was a little early for them. They spend their winters in Africa and return to us during March or early April so the timing is about right. However, the weather patterns are so out of kilter at present – I am writing this from a snow-bound Paris – that I had not expected to catch sight of them quite so soon.
There is a large nest – about the size of a mattress, I would say, carefully interwoven within the canopy of a tall Stone Pine tree, about twenty metres into the pine forest, up behind our farmhouse. One couple returns to breed there annually, or I suppose it is the same pair. We usually spot two pairs so the four circling in the garden yesterday could well have been our regular springtime lodgers, back to lay their eggs.
I consider it an honour when a mighty creature such as an eagle decides to rear her young on our land, and so close to the house. Frequently, when I am inside at my desk working, I know they have arrived because they begin to call. It is a very distinct cry and I recognise it instantly.
No matter what I am working on, no matter how tight the deadline, I rush outside to watch them. D.H. Lawrence once bemoaned the fact that he did not have ‘tree-speech’. I have on many occasions wished the same when travelling to quest the stories of the ancient olive trees I have found, but I feel the same about these magnificent birds. They share our land for almost six months of the year, they see it from a very different perspective, they have by far and away the best sea views, they traverse the Mediterranean from south of the Sahara to return to our farm – yes, our farm. Might they know that the food they seek on our land has not been poisoned? There are no poisons or insecticides to endanger them. And, throughout the summer, until it is time to return to Africa, they scout our land and further afield to feed their one offspring, sleeping in its nest a mere four minutes hike up the hill from our bedroom.
I find this such a wondrous gift from life, from Nature.
Meanwhile, I remain snowbound in Paris. I flew up a few days ago to shop for a couple of outfits for my US tour and to record the narration for a Korean documentary film called Phantoms of the Border. A chilling story about young women who flee communist North Korea for a better life in China. Of course, their hopes are misplaced and their lives are derailed. If the programme is screened on a TV channel you can capture, I recommend it.
Given the freedom of the eagles, their good fortune to be able to travel without border controls or passports, the horror stories the innocent young Korean females and their illegally-born children are forced to suffer, really set me thinking. I had spoken to the Cultural Director at UNESCO a few weeks back after the screening of our film, The Olive Tree in The Holy Land about what a step forward for Man it would be to replace the Separation Barrier in Israel/West Bank with olive trees. Trees that could be harvested by everyone, any one, all races and creeds.
Perhaps that vision is limited. Let’s go beyond the Middle East. What if one could target all closed borders, open them, dissolve them and replace those barbed wire fences, those cement walls, those look-out and checkpoints, with orchards, thousands of kilometres of green routes lined with, flanked by olive trees – the tree of peace – at the feet of which would grow many varieties of wild flowers – a bedazzling multitude of colours – where the honeybee, no, not one variety of bee, all pollinators, could forage and feed?
This is a crazy dream, I know. Still, what does it take to plant for the future, to plant a new future? It takes the knowledge that every single one of us can make a difference.
My US trip is drawing closer. All the talks/screenings are now listed under Events. If you cannot find how to book or order tickets, send me a message and I’ll get back to you. I am SO looking forward to meeting you. You will make this trip memorable for me. Please come along, introduce yourself, celebrate with me.