Flying home to Washington two days ago, I streamed the movie Maleficent (for free!) from the onboard wi-fi network. I was immediately in thrall of young Maleficent’s wings, and it got me thinking about their power, whether in fantasy, given by God, or made by humankind. The way she swooped around the moors Whoosh!
Then yesterday morning, I read an article in The New York Times entitled “Flight Paths,” about avian migratory behavior. The story related many interesting things about winged creatures, but what jumped out was this specimen from an anatomy museum at the University of Rostock, Germany:
While enjoying winter in the warmer climes of Central Africa, this stork was hit by an iron-tipped wooden spear. The Times wrote: “This unlucky bird survived the attack and flew back to Germany, only to be shot by a hunter in the spring of 1822. Newspaper reports revealed the spear’s distant origin, and the newly christened pfeilstorch, or arrow-stork, was celebrated for solving the puzzle of where German storks spent their winters.” And to me celebrated for its remarkable power and persistence!
Last night, I downloaded an e-book to read on my iPhone in the forthcoming trip to Britain, Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, a story about two girls in Charleston, South Carolina, in the opening years of the 19th Century. The opening words of the book:
There was a time in Africa the people could fly. Mauma told me this one night when I was ten years old. She said, “Handful, your granny-mauma saw it for herself. She say they flew over trees and clouds. She say they flew over clouds and trees. She say they flew like blackbirds. When we came here, we left that magic behind.
And this afternoon, we did fly, a short flight from Washington to Philadelphia, where in 90 minutes I will board a Silver Bird that will cross the Atlantic to Scotland in six hours. Its wings look like these, on the ground, and in the air just west of Glasgow:
Wings. Remarkable things, in so many ways, to be celebrated and, indeed, to be lifted up.