Old World Order
What the heck was this baby bald eagle doing at the Abbaye de Belleperche yesterday? Same thing we were, watching demonstrations of falconry and medieval music and dancing. He was only six months old and still an unruly but huge infant, my next shot was of his wing brushing my camera. There’s no shot of me hurriedly jumping backward into the mud to escape the mighty span of his feathers, but trust me, I jumped. It’s ironic to come from Washington, home to thousands of bald eagles, all the way to France in order to be brushed by an eagle’s wing, but life is like that. How he himself got here I’d really like to know.
It was a great day for seeing the half-wild birds, who evidently didn’t mind the rain as much as we did.
I hadn’t realized before that owls were also part of the falconer’s armament, but here’s a little beauty, not biting the hand that feeds her. It was amazing how the birds would fly to nearby rooftops, always returning for that little scrap of meat held tight in the glove. They work for food, just like the rest of us,
even though they don’t always look happy about it. Hmm, there could be another parallel there, depending on how much you like your job and how well you eat.
Now here are some guys who clearly love their job, a kind of combined minstrel/troubadour/commedia del arte troupe. They sang, they played,
one of them even made a blond joke about me when I couldn’t answer a question he posed to the audience. I didn’t even know they had blond jokes in France!
There was even an herbalist under the vaulted roof providing instruction about how various plants were used medicinally in medieval times. I was tempted to ask him how they treated diabetes back then, but he was always surrounded by a crowd of curious rain-avoiders.
The French have a passion for their history, and I’m starting to understand that myself. When you look at the faces of people around here, you see the same faces that you’ll find in old paintings.
They have a connection with their past that we Americans can never have, not only because we’re such a young country, but also because we’re the land of Continuous Improvement, of change for its own sake. Nonetheless, an American eagle caused a sensation here, for his size, and savage beauty. ” A new world bird” is how he was introduced, but I’m not drawing any conclusions from that about a new world order. France, in all its historic glory, is definitely here to stay.
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