Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Eagle

Image Left: Wheelbarrows, hiding out of the wind
The Eagle
Friday 29th January

Out on the street the bell is ringing, I tighten my grip on the duvet hoping to stall my inevitable departure. When the sound begins to subside I venture out from under the covers and dress quickly. The bell ringer has probably returned to the far end of the street and the island’s occupants will soon be gathering for the morning meeting. Still in the hallway and fighting with wellington boots I can hear the clack as cottage doors are swung open, slapping against the wide granite jambs. The lighthouse builders knew which way to hang a door; when the gales blow from the north we force our way out of the cottage doors rather than welcoming in the weather.

Outside the day is bright but cold, the wind has moved into the northwest carrying the arctic unhindered across the North Atlantic to race down the street. My neighbour rushes from his cottage gripping binoculars and pointing at the sky. Its an Eagle, the size alone gives it away but the movement or lack of it is a better label. High in the uncertain currents thrust up by the island’s jumble of granite fists the eagle hangs like an astronomical feature: Orion, Polaris or Mars. The smallest flex in its wing almost imperceptible to our rude eyes edges the bird along the street. I follow its line and find a small crowd of islanders stalled outside the meeting room looking to the sky. We join them and a consensus forms that it’s a golden eagle as apposed to the larger sea eagle; both local to the island. The eagle moves off drawing in its wings as it rises over the quarry. Despite the grace of movement this is a raggedy bird, its primaries extended like the fingers of a scarecrow grasping the wind from under an old jacket. Maybe that’s its mythology, a wandering tramp, a bird of the waste lands.

The crowd drifts away to join the meeting, the day needs to be planned: wood to be split, seaweed to collect, lunch, dinner and meditation. I spend the rest of the working day glancing upwards hoping to see the tramp again.

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