My Parade

Though I usually take a dog out at a particular time of day, sometimes I get an inexplicable urge to take one out RIGHT NOW. This happened today around 11:30 am. As I neared the Refuge, there were thousands of cranes rising, circling up, higher and higher. I parked Bella and got out. This is what I heard and saw:

I think the dumpster really brings it down to earth 😀

I’m still a little “migrainy” and it all seemed somewhat dreamlike. I was enveloped in the wild racket of thousands of cranes for the first 1/4 mile.

We took Bear’s favorite loop and I was enchanted by the pastel November colors and reminded why I always want to paint them.

Bear’s favorite loop and the beauty of the day…notice the tree in the distance…

As we rounded the loop’s first curve, the cranes became silent. I wondered what set them off — a predator — but WHAT predator? A cool morning. Snow falling on the mountains to the west. No way for me to know. Then, we rounded the third curve on this 1/3 mile loop and I saw…

We always think of owls as night hunters, but the Great Horned Owl hunts in daytime, too. Was it him?

My eyes filled with tears AGAIN. Oh man… And then I realized, “This is my parade! I painted this. Naturally THIS is playing the band and sending out ‘floats,’ the whole thing!” Birds being floats, of course.

I loved the thought and it seemed right. My big painting depicts one of the quietest moments in this silent (except for animals, wind, and the occasional “Hello!”) place. It’s the kind of scene revealed by hours in a wild place. It doesn’t take your breath away or stimulate awe. It’s just a quiet crane moment on a dull day. It’s a love letter from me to the Refuge. My parade couldn’t have been any better, I thought, and then…

I noticed something land on the top of one of the cottonwood trees…

Seems to be a Cooper’s hawk

Soon after I took his photo, this lovely being launched himself from the tree. You can see that moment in the featured photo if you look really really hard, then swooped down in front of Bear and me, then up and began circling the group of cranes and other water birds now hanging around the pond. “Like a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow bend.” (Hopkins, “The Windhover”)

“What a beautiful float!” I said to Bear who wondered why we weren’t moving and smelling stuff. I also realized that I was thirsty and a little hungry, so we turned back. Just as I arrived at the parking lot I saw a pair of Harris Hawks. These guys are noisy compared to other raptors. Their adaptation to environments where prey is scarcer has also “taught” them to hunt in groups. They’re darker hawks, reddish brown and reddish black. I’ve seen this couple a few other times. They like to hunt by the paved road that runs past the Refuge.

Best parade of my life. ❤

26 thoughts on “My Parade

  1. Indeed! So many birds; a great parade.

    Love the video. The cranes in such numbers, flying and calling, are amazing. I’m lucky if I see/hear two at a time. And the dumpster at the end? Oh well, signs of humans are everywhere and hard to avoid. I’m sure you were still focused on the cranes 🙂

  2. Thank you!!! I am richer for watching and hearing the cranes in flight! I think that small voice that compelled you to go for a walk, knew exactly what your heart and soul needed….

  3. This my kind of parade, Martha. I love it! Now when I’m walking my Big Empty I have a new thought about it. The video made Finley sit straight up and peek her nose to the screen to see and hear the excitement (and at least there’s a dumpster~that I pray humans actually use instead of your perfect parade route). I’m with you on the colors ~they represent the significant serenity I feel in the quietness of my empty. I tear up when nature and I are one such as this. I see the owl too! I’ve noticed many black birds on my recent walks. I took my neighbor Michelle on a “little” hike that ended up being 3 1/2 miles of descending and then conquering steep thorny inclines. I’m mentoring her as she suffers from PTSD and a head injury. She has been like a daughter; yet, she’s more wise than most adults I’m around. She gets it. And when I read your posts, I get it. 💚❣️🐾

    • You can put your mind at rest. People use the dumpster. 🙂 Michelle is lucky to have a friend to be with her as she goes through that. I taught a great young woman years ago who left school to join the Marines. She saw it as a way to get her education paid for and escape a bad marriage. She came back some years later, significantly damaged in her heart and mind. It was heart-breaking. She couldn’t even take a quiz without absolutely freaking out in terror. Any stress sent her over the edge. ❤

      Yeah, my parade was wonderful. My world was saying, "I know you felt bad about not having a parade or anyone to celebrate with, but, Martha, you were just looking in the wrong place."

  4. When I read that quote I thought that this post read a bit like a Hopkins poem. But no, I think it reads more like a chapter from Gilbert White. The same immersion in a familiar landscape.

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