Last Saturday was a beautiful early spring day, a crisp, sunny day perfect for experiencing the re-awakening of life amongst the wonders of the Indiana Dunes. As we hiked amongst the rolling dunes held steadfast against the winds by the spreading tree roots, the sky was full of sounds, the screeching of the gulls, the songs of the blackbirds, and over and above it all, the loud, rattling, bugle sounds of the Sandhill Cranes. Originating from unseen formations high above and from nearby wetlands, the sounds seemed to echo from the blue dome of sky, undiminished by the screening tree branches and compressed between the nearby dunes.
Although our region is a favorite stopover for many thousands of migrating cranes, it’s a small flock compared to the more than half a million cranes (80% of the all the cranes on the planet) that stop over along the Platte River near my family’s small farm in South Central Nebraska. When I was a kid, hearing the sounds of the migrating flocks was just another of the many routines of life on the plains that were coupled to the seasons, but went largely un-noticed and un-appreciated against the daily routines of life.
But as I walked the trails on Saturday, I felt a sense of growing awareness of our connection to nature, a hopeful feeling that there has truly been a re-awakening in the public consciousness of the fragility of God’s kingdom here on earth, a renewal of respect and appreciation of wild and not so wild life forms.
In Nebraska, the re-awakening to the Crane migration has been dramatic over the last few years as local farmers and business owners seek new opportunities from the burgeoning “Crane-Tourism”. But I think that it’s not just the Cranes and not just the new business. In recent years, I’ve seen bald eagles fishing a nearby reservoir and wild turkeys roaming cornfields where they didn’t exist 40 years ago. I’ve noticed recent covers of agri-business publications featuring quotes from farmers such as “Why was I working against Mother Nature instead of with her?” and “I just want a system that gives me happy cows, clean water, and healthy soil.”
So maybe it really is possible that humanity is beginning to appreciate the lessons in survival known to the Sandhill Cranes, a species that has not changed appreciably in ten million years, that has outlasted millions of other species that are now extinct.
Life is Sacred and So Very Good Indeed!
Song birds singing their tunes in such harmony, on this beautiful spring morning brought such delight to my weary soul, freshness in the air what a feeling this all brings me, and sends me home renewed.
The Sounds of Spring - J.W. Foulk