Every spring, usually around the second week in March, male storks arrive in Bulgaria in order to get their nests ready for mating. They always go to the same spot. This, much to the delight of the locals in my village, who believe it is very lucky to have the same stork take up residence in his old nest year after year.
Most villages have two or three nests, and I count myself lucky to have a clear view of one not far from my office window. Two years ago, the male resident of the nest arrived. He tidied up a little…threw old bits of straw and got some new stuff to weave in. Not long afterwards, his mate arrived and she helped him with this task. However, their bliss was interrupted when another couple of birds arrived and laid claim to the same nest. Friction, in the form of swooping and beak-fencing ensued. My husband and friends joked that we were witnessing a ‘storkgate’ type of drama. But eventually, everything calmed down, our usual resident male won back his nest and he and his mate produced three cute babies
In the summer of the same year, our mating pair taught their offspring to fly, and then left the nest to return to Africa. That should have been the end of it until the following spring, except..it wasn’t. During a particularly hot August day the telegraph wire, attached to the pole, (on top of which the nest was situated), caught fire and the entire nest burned down. This caused consternation throughout the village and we speculated as to what would happen when our stork pair returned in the spring.
When March finally arrived, we saw our confused male circling around the telegraph pole obviously wondering what on earth had happened. On tenterhooks, we thought he might give up and leave, but he proved to be much more tenacious than that. He spent the following two days building another nest and, my goodness, I have never seen such industrious workmanship. I mentally awarded him five stars for his effort.
Then, it all went wrong again because high winds arrived…seriously high winds and blew his new nest completely off the top of the pole. Shortly afterwards, his mate arrived and the two of them circled the pole. I imagined them pondering their misfortune and wondering what to do. She, heavily egged and in dire need of a place to watch her chicks hatch, would be telling her man that they should see that particular telegraph pole as jinxed, and they would be better off slinging their figurative hooks and looking elsewhere.
For the following two days we saw nothing of them, and my husband and I looked out at the bald telegraph pole, sadly convinced we had seen the last of them. But wait…they came back. They came back and worked from early morning until sundown to re-build their home, in exactly the same spot. It was such joy to see them stealing straw bits of this and that to make another construction. They went on to successfully raise three babies.
This morning, I listened to the Today Programme on the radio. As usual, it was full of harrowing stories of violence, conflict and tragedy. Then, I looked out of my window, saw the storks’ nest and basked in a warm glow. They would be back, I told myself. And, oblivious to the dark constant of their human neighbours, they would return to re-define their own constant, one which is simple, single-layered, but always full of hope.