Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Finding strength and space.

The buzzard was still in the same spot - watching over his territory. He seemed less surprised to see us this time and hopped down onto the ground, unperturbed by our stationary car. Perhaps we were no longer strangers as we we were returning to our favourite 'time out' spot.  No walking this time, just a chance to clear my lungs in the fresh air and soak up some of the stillness.
I was unfamiliar with buzzards until we moved to Devon. On the day of our move, the sky was a clear blue without a cloud to be seen. We were faced with what appeared to be an insurmountable problem - our furniture didn't fit into the quirky cottage we had just bought. The small rooms with two foot thick walls could not be stretched  to fit the last loads  - so our garden  was now furnished with table and benches and a chest of drawers. (Little did I think then, that I would face the same problem twenty one years later.) We lay on the benches looking up into the sky and we thought we were so fortunate. And that was when I first heard the cry of the buzzards. A piercing, screeching cry that was unmistakable yet the sky looked empty. Eventually we could make out two tiny pin pricks way up towards the heavens. There they were - soaring to a higher place, circling on the invisible air currents and surveying the world below them. 

When we moved to Gibraltar there were no buzzards but in  Spain we saw the sea eagles. With their huge outstretched wings, they ascended into the skies from the mountain ledges and were a truly magnificent sight. We saw them again when we visited Spain in the spring some years later. We had left a friend and neighbour very ill with cancer. It was the Curate's birthday and as we watched the eagles circling above us, I commented that I hoped our friend was free from pain and flying with the eagles. That was the day that she had passed away.
I was reminded of this when the Dean of Gibraltar preached on a lovely verse in Isaiah 40.31 while we were visiting a few years back.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength,
They will soar high on wings like eagles ,
They will run and not grow weary
They will walk and not faint.

We have known several friends and neighbours endure the shock and distress of a cancer diagnosis. For some, the journey is long and difficult.  I don't remember knowing about people dying when I was growing up, perhaps we were more shielded from death as a child. Even at my age, I still don't expect my contemporaries or their children to die  - I am not prepared for it. I hope buzzards count as eagles in Devon.
Eagle territory in Spain.
Buzzard territory in Devon


  1. A thoughtful and beautifully written and illustrated post, Harriet. We have buzzards in Mid-Wales, but now also red kites and I love to watch the latter soaring in the sky above our house - so big and beautiful.

    I think you were fortunate as a child not to have known about anyone dying. My grandmother, who lived next-door to us, died of cancer when I was 14 and cancer has affected me and several members of my immediate family, though thankfully not always fatally. We are lucky to live in an age when it has become a much more treatable disease.

  2. Harriet, I thank you for your wonderful writings, and beautiful thoughts and photos.

  3. Beautiful birds... but not exactly cuddly...