Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Big Bird Week

I had barely left my home on Zimmer Rd, headed for the St Croix Valley Pottery Tour when two Sandhill cranes flew low over the road in front of me.  There's no mistaking them for herons.  They fly with necks outstretched.

And that was cool enough as it was.  A nice launch to my long journey.  But cooler still -- as I crossed the Wisconsin/Minnesota State line, two Sandhill cranes flew low over highway 94 in front of me.

Could it be?

Nah.  Obviously not the same two birds.  But the phenomenon was like putting quotation marks on either end of my long journey.

Then, on Saturday morning after saying farewell to Kyle Carpenter and Richard Vincent at Richard's pottery, I got back in the van and headed for Will Swanson's pottery.  I was nearing Swanson's when I went down a gentle dip in the road.  As I did, a pheasant flew across the road in front of me.  I don't spend enough time in the country.  The sight was a rare and beautiful thing to me.

Well, today I was out on the shore of Pike Lake and my attention was grabbed by a sudden flash of movement followed by a sizable splash about thirty yards from where I stood.  Up from the splash came a big bird.  A VERY big bird.

My first thought was that it was the bald eagle I had seen in almost exactly the same place yesterday. But, nope.  It was an osprey.  And it had missed its fish. It rose up from the lake and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it -- mid flight -- shake water off itself just as a dog might do. 

It then rose and held stationary in the wind -- soaring like a kite. It's all wing and it was obvious that it could have held still in the wind almost indefinitely.  From its vantage point about 50' above the lake's surface it spotted another fish.

Down it dove, hitting the water with a mighty splash, diving below the surface, only to come up empty-taloned again.

It repeated the aerial hunt four more times -- each unsuccessful -- before finally flying off to a different fishing hole.

Birds fascinate me.  It doesn't surprise me that we humans have concocted as much myth and lore around them as we have.

My mother-in-law used to feed a particular cardinal.  For years the same red bird stayed around her home in inner city Indianapolis.  She talked to him (for the record, his name was "Mr Cheer").  At that age when it becomes hard to find the right gift to buy for an older person, we took to buying things with redbird motifs on them.  Dar stitched a sampler or two on the theme.

Now, whenever a cardinal flies across my path -- as they so often do as Breeze and I run the trails -- I imagine to myself that my mother-in-law is saying a prayer for me from her celestial vantage point.

Birds.  Love 'em.

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