Freeing the Falcon

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Isn’t it strange how sometimes an image or idea appears suddenly with frequency? The falcon-like Gods of Ra and Horus are prominent in hieroglyphics and Egyptian art, but during our two years here, only rarely have we spotted live falcons.

I was on the phone in the kitchen when movement behind the dusty windows across the street caught my eye. Through the dirty glass, the fluttering wings looked like an apparition of an angel. I summoned Brad to look, too. It was a Falcon trapped in a stairwell.

“Can you save him?”

Sensing this was important to me, he went next door and climbed several stifling hot flights of steps of this dirty, old building. Inside, the only sounds were scratching and flapping. The falcon was distressed, hot and exhausted, its mouth open and panting as it bashed into walls.

Carefully navigating around this wildly moving bird, wary of its talons, Brad dislodged a window and clapped to guide the desperate falcon toward the exit. It powerfully swooped down through the open window across from me. The bird circled the roof twice as if to orient itself, then soared into the sky, its strong wings spread wide, escaping to freedom.

This seemed like a perfect ending for our time in Egypt, to send this gorgeous creature with such powerful symbolism back out into Cairo to continue its adventure.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

– Mary Oliver, poet

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The Spice of Life

One of my favorite outings in Cairo is to immerse myself in the vibrancy of the Khan El Khalili Bazaar. In the early fourteenth century, sultans and merchants established an economic trade area for their spices, silks, and camels. The market still exists today and you can buy most anything there, from a fresh chicken to a patchwork quilt, a piece of handcrafted wooden furniture, an oud instrument, or a scarab amulet. And of course, spices!

As we approach “the Khan,” Gothic Islamic mosque spires pierce the horizon. An array of structures forms a craggy roofline like something a child would draw. Inside its walls, the open-air marketplace is a labyrinth of cobblestone alleys; some quiet, narrow, and full of dusty antiques and vintage treasures. Other passages are a wonderful circus of riotous color and sound.

Vendor stalls are stacked like doll-house rooms laden with shiny gold statues, jewel-toned galabeya dresses and brightly patterned textiles. Pedestrians instinctively make way for delivery mopeds, carts selling roasted sweet potatoes, and donkeys pulling wagons with fruits and vegetables piled high. Cyclists expertly weave between obstacles with large trays of soft, round pillows of baladi bread balanced on their head.

Once you walk a while, camouflaged architectural details emerge: faded signs with subtle, flowing Arabic script, scrolling wrought-iron gates, and decorative mashrabiya latticework on second story balconies. Carefully placed stones line artful archways that frame beautifully carved doors.

Shoppers without an objective can become overwhelmed. There are blank books embossed by hand with gold-leaf initials and delicately carved tables painstakingly inlaid with mother of pearl marquetry. Silver jewelry with inspired designs entices you to buy more earrings and bracelets than any one person could wear. Canvas bags overflow with aromatic spices of anise and cinnamon. Shelves of hand-blown glass bottles in pastel hues stand patiently, waiting to hold scented oils you can mix like an alchemist: sandalwood, patchouli, opium, amber, or frankincense that “induce relaxation, affection, sleep, or healing.”

As daylight fades, market browsers flag down taxis and the ambience shifts. A mysticism appears in the shadows. Streets glow with glittering lanterns and illuminated coffee houses. Shops gleam with brass and copper wares. Locals in cafes shuffle in their wooden chairs, huddling around tiny tables, engaging in lively conversation over shisha and mint tea. 

“As the sky prepares to settle its tired, aching feet into the night’s velvet slippers,
I settle into my armchair, soaking the teabag of my thoughts into warm liquidy stars.”

         -Indian poet, Sanober Khan

May you embrace the spice of life,

Tracy

The Missing Bottle of Glow-ness

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Hello and Happy New Year!

After lovely holidays with friends and family, I reflect with gratitude that 2017 came to a close surrounded by loved ones. In my journal, I like the newness of writing 2 0 1 8 and its round number as I pen the date.

I daydream about possibilities as the months lay before me, waiting to be filled and experienced. I silently promise myself to make the most of the next four and half months. In June, Ramsay finishes Kindergarten and we enter the Foreign Service vortex of changing countries, schools and houses. The place we will land, however, has not yet revealed to us.

As a planner, this is hard for me, the not knowing. The waiting. The wondering and blind trust in the universe. Will our new assignment be somewhere wonderful? Will we be safe? Which hemisphere and will we need cold weather clothes? Will our living space be cozy and filled with natural light? Will Ramsay like his school? Brad, his job? Will I meet kindred spirits there?

My breath shortens when I think of how quickly the next few months will go, and how peace of mind is easily usurped by the sweeping changes heading our way.  So, I commit to living mindfully and with less resistance; letting life flow a little easier. To take it a day at a time and enjoy the magic in the little daily details, like this one:

Ramsay (almost six) was lost in his beautiful child’s imagination when he came up to me and excitedly exclaimed, “I found it! I found it, Mom, the Missing Bottle of Glow-ness!”  This paper with a small mountain on it made perfect sense to him (and likely had something to do with Star Wars), but metaphorically, I loved the idea of having a bottle of glow-ness; magical and luminous and full of possibility.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Wishing for you a bottle of glow-ness for your 2018, too.

Abundance and Light,

Tracy