Crane’s wing sweeps
floating like snowfall
Sweetly poised, graceful dancer
elegant hunter, steady watcher
Bugling call shakes dust from the soul
opening the inner sight to wondrous colors
Months ago, I was stunned into awed, motionless silence. I had never heard the rattling duet of paired Sandhill Cranes, and all I could do was stand, rooted to the bridge that is the very center of the park as I watched their scarlet faces soar over my head to an unknown destination. Moments after the two regal birds flew from my view, my mind lurched into motion and confused thoughts went cascading every which way. I had never seen them before, these massive birds with a flight shape like geese; the only comparison for size I had encountered was the Great Blue Heron. I simply had to know more.
Once I had successfully identified the beautiful birds, I looked for all the information I could: habitats, mating, calls, stories, symbolism, anything. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology was an excellent source, and there are plenty of YouTube videos for observing their motion and behavior. Listening to the Sandhill Crane calls seemed to always have a paradoxical effect on me, at once trance-like and yet acutely aware of even the minute details of reality around me.
I could occasionally hear them calling in the distance on later trips to park, but I did not have any expectations of actually catching sight of them. It was my great honor several weeks later on September 4th to encounter them again. I wandered among the trees around Visionsong feeling restless, a vaguely frustrated feeling of searching for something and not knowing what I was even looking for. Jogging to try and shake off the nervous energy along the paths that were covered in red Black Maple leaves and dappled by golden morning sunlight, I heard the piercing duet. I broke into a run, leaving the trees and coming to the grass-covered edges of a harvested corn field. Rounding the last stand of trees, I looked downhill and had my breath stolen. Soaring in a graceful dance in the bright morning sun as if performing just for me, the scarlet faces and grey-rust wings darted and wheeled for several long minutes before flying off.
I think I will be learning lessons from the Crane, of beauty and grace and mystery, for a long time to come.