Old World Order

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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.

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It was a great day for seeing the half-wild birds, who evidently didn’t mind the rain as much as we did.

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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,

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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.

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Now here are some guys who clearly love their job, a kind of combined minstrel/troubadour/commedia del arte troupe.  They sang, they played,

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they juggled,

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France


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7 Comments on “Old World Order”

  1. zuleme Says:

    I was reading a book about France which said that the French are the original inhabitants of their land which is something to think about. I have a strong family attachment to a part of New England of almost 400 years but my friends in France probably have roots going back thousands. We loved that sense of a land long lived in by the people still there. Ireland has the same feeling, as if you could find ancient artifacts in any field.
    I bet it’s illegal to keep those kinds of birds in the US, especially owls and eagles.

  2. Dedene Says:

    I thought blonde jokes started in France!

    Beautiful pictures, thanks!

  3. Nim Says:

    “I bet it’s illegal to keep those kinds of birds in the US, especially owls and eagles.”

    No, but you do need an exotic animal permit; and to get started you need to find a certified Master Falconer and get an apprenticeship with him/her. From there you need to get a hunting permit, and your mews will have to be able to be inspected (and pass!) by Game and Fish representatives.

  4. Abra Bennett Says:

    Nim, it sounds like you know a lot about this. Any idea how a bald eagle only 6 months old would find itself in France? Maybe it arrived as an egg?

  5. Nim Says:

    I suspect it was born in France. It would have to be descended from captive ones that came to France from before they had endangered status, because even zoos haven’t been able to get them unless they were part of the breeding programs since then. Although, since they’ve been moved to the “threatened” list, it has become easier.

    I would guess that the people it came with were from a sanctuary, and that they brought to the fair for socialization and educational purposes.

    A quick Google check tells me that it is legal to use Bald Eagles for falconry in the Canaries, Britain, Germany and Austria so I would imagine it would be much the same in France.

  6. geri Says:

    fascinating…esp. your comment about the French & their faces from old paintings

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