Where I was born, they said: ‘Ah, the birds fly backwards there’. Leeds is ugly. ‘Dirty Leeds’ refers to the football and the city. Both are untrue. However, why spoil a good story?
Leeds epitomises: ‘where’s there’s muck there’s money’. A Lowry picture with its billowing smoke stacks is Leeds. It is as authentic as all Leodensians have cloth caps. Leeds is not rhubarb filled allotments & whippets. All the same, the remark about birds flying backwards has endured. I like it. In fact, it captures my whole philosophy. I see my life in the same way the birds view Leeds. Both the birds of Leeds and I say, in common ‘Thank God that is behind me’.
With the birds, it is a joke. With me, it is a reality. I enjoy my doings in retrospect. I identify with birds. My favourite film is Mary Poppins. My favourite character in Mary Poppins is my namesake, Michael. Like me, he causes havoc with the best of intentions. Moreover, my favourite song? Well of course – it is ‘Feed the Birds’. Leeds is famous for homing pigeons—no matter how far they go. They always come home. You can take a pigeon out of Leeds, but he remembers his way back
I, like my birds, migrated. I went back to a home I knew to be mine. I left behind the New Left and the failing revolution. I went to the only successful revolution; Zion. I went to Israel. I built my nest; Oranit. There is a beautiful song about birds in Israel. It tells a true story. A group left Tel Aviv on horseback. They meandered along the banks of the Yarkon river. In the evening, they decamped at a place where there was not a bird heard. All but one of the group fled. The absence of birds was an ill portent — it meant death. However, in the morning, the lone Doctor Solomon heard, on awakening, the singing of birds. He founded, on the banks of the Yarkon River, the first settlement outside Tel Aviv. Petaq Tikva -- the gateway to hope. They wrote a poem in honour of the man who stayed:
‘— and till this day, there are those who say, that the length of the Yarkon, the birds all sing their song, to Moshe Solomon.’
Like my medical colleague Dr Solomon, I was a co-founder of a village. I the founded the magnificent community, Oranit. As then, there were no birds. We planted 1,200 trees, and every house added another two or three of their own. Two thousand trees. For each tree, there are now many chirping birds.
There are seasons in life. I am now in my golden autumn, and this old bird has a lot to look back on. The seasons change. They rush past. There is a lot to look back on and enjoy; again, in retrospect.
Next month, I will look up. Every year, twice yearly, the birds flock. The most awesome are the storks. No one has seen so many storks circling in a pure blue sky.
Oranit, our village, is under their flight path. Europe's bird to and fro twice yearly.
The most incredible of sights.
They are the United Nations of birds. Each with their way of communicating. The most eternal of events and we are part of it. We will never stop to be part of it.
From Leeds, where birds fly backwards, to Oranit, where the birds will fly forever. The circle is complete.
My books and blogs have now taken wing. From Oranit they migrate; they tell Oranit’s story. My words soar through the cyberspace; they convey one message in different tongues.
The birds and my words will fly long after I have flown away.
A life lesson learned: don’t look back, look to the skies; never betray your visions.
One day soon, every man will talk to and take his place under the sun. The brotherhood of man is not a dream – power to the people is alive.
Birds, words and dreams, always travel, communicate and return fulfilled.
Oranit is the proof