Mother Nature is calling...

Mother Nature is calling...

Many moons ago, I worked as a photographer on cruise ships. One of my most memorable experiences was in Istanbul, Turkey. Our group of friends was standing in the square between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, when suddenly something truly magical happened: All around us, loudspeakers from the surrounding mosque’s minarets started playing The Ezan, a chant calling the Muslim’s to prayer.

The sound was coming from every direction, and it’s as if a hush fell over every living thing. People stopped conversing, cars and bikes seemed to float noiselessly, birds ceased to sing. For a moment, the wind even stopped rustling through the leaves in the trees…

It was the single most spiritual experience of my life. I felt connected to humanity and to God. When I think about it now, it brings tears to my eyes and goosebumps to my skin. I’ve never experienced anything remotely like to it since.

Until this past Saturday.

Quite by coincidence, I was on duty at the Craft Art Market at Spier Wine Farm just outside Stellenbosch. I volunteered to stand in for a colleague that was feeling under the weather, so I wasn’t even supposed to be there. I was setting up my materials to paint a wooden lion mask, when suddenly it happened: Chanting! This time, it wasn’t coming from mosques. It was coming from the sky!

Immediately, I cast my eyes up to the blue heavens. I knew if I watched and waited, I would eventually be rewarded with a sighting of the chanter. And yes! My patience paid off as he swept past overhead, bellowing another chant for good measure. Iconically strong, elegant, fierce. Iconically African. Brown body and vast wings stretched proud and wide, contrasting with the crisp, white of the head. An African fish eagle! I smile to myself, returning to my work. A sighting of this special raptor never gets old.

As if to call me back to attention, a second eagle chants in the distance. I’ve barely lifted my gaze to look for it on the horizon, when the first replies overhead. A brief, silent pause, and then it’s as if I’m back in Istanbul, with every minaret in the city loudly, beautifully, passionately calling its people to worship.

The fish eagles are calling from all around me! One after the other, they make their presence known. Like a professional relay team, they pass the baton of the chant effortlessly, as if they have been rehearsing this moment for months.

I spin around in circles, following the seamless progression of the sound as best I can. Most of the musicians, I cannot see. But I can hear them. I can feel them. The earth pulses beneath my feet, harmonising perfectly with the orchestra of eagles.

The chanting must have lasted only about a minute, but it felt like an eternity… And when it finally stops, the silence that follows is deafening. All of Mother Nature had paused to listen.



Visiting the incredible Blue Mosque:

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istanbul the happy struggling artist 002

Inside the Blue Mosque. I was so yooooung!!!

african fish eagle the happy struggling artist

An African fish eagle in the Kruger National Park during a fabulous family camping trip.

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