Friday, 7 May 2021

The Healing Has Begun


The ospreys are back. I began looking out for them in early March, but it took at least four weeks before I could confirm my first sighting. 


From a distance it’s easy to mistake these raptors for large seagulls; gulls however don’t tend to hover in the same manner, and certainly don’t dive at such vertical angles into shallow waters.


As they say back in Wexford, “the rale thing don’t disappoint.”


I had heard that ospreys are often exhausted from their long journey back to the North-East from Florida, the Caribbean, or even South America, but the first one I spotted was in fine fettle as she carried a sizeable fish back to her nest in the nearby bogland.


Ospreys tend to keep the same mate but they return from their winter home separately. The female is often first back, perhaps to make a dent in the spring-cleaning, or more likely to secure last year’s nest.


She will wait a goodly time for the male’s arrival, but only so much and no more.


The procreative instinct is apparently stronger than romantic loyalty, and the female will choose another male if her mate is too tardy.


Since my ospreys were fishing in tandem within days of first sighting I can only surmise that this particular union continues.


Last year I didn’t even realize they had departed until mid-October. Do you remember those days? We were six or seven months into the pandemic and in the thick of the presidential election. It was a turbulent time, to say the least.


Ospreys were way down most people’s list of important matters. I missed them keenly though. They had been faithful companions through many a bleary dawn.


It was a grim autumn, with promise of a bitter winter. Not to put too fine a point on it, the country was reeling.


That tends to happen when the highest official in the land has little concern for truth and scientific fact. You begin to feel that things you took for granted are based on a flimsy foundation.


Who would have imagined that truth could be so easily swept aside by the poisonous babble of social media’s echo chamber?


Take away scientific fact and what’s left - the biggest pig at the trough, the loudest, most aggressive bawler?


This is nothing new in American politics – after all, Burr shot Hamilton, and people of color, immigrants, Catholics, socialists, and many others have felt the lash of political recrimination and discrimination.


But truth and scientific fact have always somehow managed to reassert themselves and help redress grievances.


You could feel the pressure building last fall after the sitting president made the outrageous statement, “the only way we’re going to lose the election is if the election is rigged.”


It didn’t help that Covid-19 was sweeping the land, the economy was tanking, and millions had lost their jobs. Was it any wonder our foundation quaked?


America was experiencing a dark night of the soul that culminated in a day of bullyboy disgrace on January 6th.


But the foundation held. Many people drew on the reserves of their core beliefs, be they Bible, Quran, or just plain logic. 


We saw QAnon and all the other craven fantasies for what they are – rubbish. Truth and scientific fact may not always be comforting, but when the chips are down they wipe the floor with unfounded conspiracy theories.


There’s a new president in office now. He’ll undoubtedly make his mistakes – but he doesn’t have a psychotic need to be at the center of every argument. Does he even have a Twitter account? I don’t know and I care less. I value silence and have no interest in being anyone’s follower.


A corner has been rounded – vaccination is in full swing and we seem to have blunted the razor edge of this pandemic.


Everything is far from okay in our democracy – that’s the nature of the beast. But it beats the yokel mob rule of January 6th.


The country is coming to its senses, the weather is improving, we can mix again without too much risk of infecting each other, and the ospreys have returned. 


Soon their chicks will be born, and they’ll work from dawn to dusk to feed them.  A new cycle has started. The healing has begun.

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