And I Just Keep Learning One Difficult Lesson after Another…

The Monte Vista Crane Festival has been going on all this weekend and I’ve had house guests — my friend Lois and her developmentally disabled (and awesome) son, Mark.

Yesterday morning we went out to look for the cranes. It was the first time I’ve experienced driving at the Wildlife Refuge with the tourists. It was interesting. Lots of immense rented SUVs. There were fewer cranes in the usual places, but it was a gorgeous day if you like warm air, clear skies and that sort of thing.

Field of Cranes in front of the San Juans

After that we went to the Craft and Nature Fair. Among the exhibits was a raptor rescue from Albuquerque. I was involved with an organization like that in San Diego and I was so happy to be so close to the birds again. I talked a long time with one of the women working there. It was an incredible, engaging conversation about teaching kids to love nature by exposing them to these amazing birds.

I love Mark so much, but it’s difficult sometimes to tolerate the reality that he cannot look forward to the consequences of his actions like “normal” people do. I love him for his own sake, but also for the sad fact that some of the things he does remind me how lucky I am to understand WHY you do this and not that.

Yesterday Mark set his shoe on the table. I yelled at him, “Get your shoe off the table! You don’t put shoes on the table!” In my mind’s eye, I saw where that shoe had been, walking around on dirt comprising ground cow dung, elk droppings, spit, urine from various ambulatory beings, godnose. You know, dirt.

He looked shocked — I’m not a person who yells at people, or dogs. Bear ran outside and didn’t want to come back in. Bear’s breed is just like that. Mark was chagrined. I felt weird. Lois and I had to cajole Bear back into the house, and Mark went back to listening to music.

I thought the rest of the night how our knowledge and understanding of how to live life builds incrementally in immeasurable particles. I thought of how important reasoning is in our ability to navigate life safely. It’s actually a pleasure to be able to think.

In the early evening we returned to the Refuge, this time to a more distant spot, a barley field that had been mowed to attract the cranes. There were three school buses of Crane Tourists, and thousands of cranes in the field. There was also the 360 degree spectacle which is sun set in the San Luis Valley.

Most photos were taken by my friend Lois. My photo is the cranes in the field.

17 thoughts on “And I Just Keep Learning One Difficult Lesson after Another…

  1. It’s wonderful scenery and must have been a great experience. I have lived with my autistic son for 50 years. Today he is quieter and everything is more manageable, but I had my experience of pointing him in the right direction, and that was never easy.

  2. How exciting to see so many cranes n the field — and the raptor group, too! And what a beautiful sunset — but did the cranes disappear with the sun?

  3. gorgeous. One of these years. . .

    Great insights on Mark, and how things that are “so obvious” to others may not be so. I struggle with this as BA has had some brain events and has odd gaps that are very challenging for me to accept and go on. (like don’t put dirty stuff on the clean pad for just washed dishes) the doc in me goes bats, even as we are both quite germ resistant.

  4. To deal with someone like Mark takes acceptance. Once you have truly accepted his limitations it takes much of the emotional burden away. Unless you are a master of Zen or Stoicism or somesuch, acceptance only comes with time and experience with the thing to be accepted.

    Parents who don’t learn to simply accept and stay emotionally involved with the day to day details eventually melt down.

  5. Thanks for adding your take on the prompt. Now I see where the cranes go when they leave our fields. We get a stopover for several weeks in late Sept and hundreds of cranes comb the local fields for grain left behind.

    • These cranes go as far north as Siberia, up through Wyoming, stop in Yellowstone, another stop in Canada — so maybe they’re the same cranes!!! — then onward, then back. They winter in New Mexico. They just amaze me.

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