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Summer Visitors

Here's a fine fellow/lass at Seney.

Described as grey, the crane’s color is supposed to come from muddy environments. They match our sand, for sure!

The prehistoric call of the sand hill crane is a hair-raising experience, especially in the just-dawn mist of our meadow, where they glide through the brush and dip for food just beyond the reach of my camera’s true focus. I watched five of them with Martha when she was here, and today as I glanced out the bedroom window, a pair fed at a distance of about three houses away.

I’m posting the pictures I took when Martha was here (along with another I took at Seney National Wildlife Refuge). They’re not perfect. Steven made a recording for Martha’s daughter Liberty, who missed their calling while she was here for some reason, but I can’t upload it. I finally got smart and realized someone must already have recordings online. Here’s the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, I believe:

Hard to see among the jackpines, they give me a thrill every time I catch a glimpse.

Now you almost see them…

The sound is best in the meadow itself, of course, combined with the brightness of my flowers and the sky, the scent of pine, lemon geranium, hay, and basil, the feel of the wind caressing or rushing by. When we first moved here, I crept out into the meadow every time I heard them, trying for a glimpse through the trees. A five-foot bird with a reverberating call is worth a bit of trouble.

I’ve grown blasé, now. When they’re far away, I smile as I hear their voices on the wind but don’t run to see unless they’re close. They usually come in April and leave in September. During that time, they’re often in the meadow or the sky over it.

They keep me sane. They keep me grounded in the thought that although the transient races may mess things up for a while, the world will go on. They’ve been here a lot longer than humankind, those cranes, and I hope they’ll be here in a future we can share.


Through the meadow, by the neighbors' hunting camp.

They seem to rarely travel alone, and when one was left behind (for whatever avian reason) he made the meadows ring with his complaint!

It’s good to have a vision like that in times rife with politics. The peace I envision spreads past the meadow and cranes, an implicit environmental statement and an international one as well. It implies a people who can afford not to eat these prime sources of protein, a social structure in which our national resources are honored.

We need to do more than vision, though, sad as I am to say it. Our voices, the ones that speak for sanity, are needed more than ever. A populace that believes in political slogans devised to divide is certainly doomed. It is precisely the voice of the crane that is lost in their scenario, as part of the huge and ongoing loss we accept when we accept a negative view of our future instead of examining the picture, and then looking to improve it.

I do all too little, comfortable in the back of beyond. I think, I vote, I implement small changes like recycling or using only one car. It is, frighteningly, more than many will do. The poet e.e. cummings spoke accurately of “that busy monster, man unkind”. I work for a change in that description in as many ways as I can.

Hoping you are the same!

Headed for Little Bay de Noc

Cranes fly straight-legged and straight-necked, which is how you tell them from bent-necked herons in flight.

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