Perhaps I’m unusual. When I first joined my Belgian friends in Senegal in 2018, I heard about the white birds. Every day, as the sun declines, they return to a certain tree near Toubacouta, on an island in the middle of a river. We went there in a little boat.
As our host turned off the motor and we drifted a bit, all ten of us turned to the island. The birds started to come. Each probably had their favourite branch. It was time to sleep.
As the white mottled the green, I felt compelled to look behind me. I lifted my gaze to the treetops on the far shore. Wings burst over the branches and soared above my head. What a rush! But I was the only one looking the “wrong way”. And nobody joined me.
That really doesn’t mean anything. I just view things with a different slant than most people. Fine with me.
And now in Ghent, on the back terrace of my apartment on the Oudburg. The normal thing is to cast the eyes over the long view, to the glass of the Ghent River Hotel and the far away brown slate rooves. In the early hours of daylight, the seagulls fly left to right across the sky.
This morning, however, I took a chair and faced the roof to my left. I waited. And the explosions of birdness suddenly appearing over the spine left my mouth agape. Such raucous flight! For awhile I held my phone aloft, hoping for up close wings against the sky. Soon my arms got tired and I decided that you folks can see the image in your vivid imaginations.
Stunned to silence near Toubacouta
Stunned to silence in Ghent
It’s a small world