The other day Bear and I took off for the Refuge (how many posts start this way?) it was a beautiful early fall day after rain in the night, meaning the air was soft, the clouds fluffy and and and and… I know there are places in the world where days like that happen a lot, but here they are rare. My view of Mt. Blanca was obscured by soft, fluffy clouds. The loveliest thing about our time that day was that everything was completely still. Very few cars on the road. No crane tourists. The only sound a fleeting breeze that came and went — came enough to make it comfortable, went enough to maintain the silence.
Last year, the first fall I walked out there, was unusual because of the snow we had in late summer. What I’m experiencing out there now makes me think this year is more normal. As we walked I found myself being boarded by tiny transparent creatures who looked like fairies. As many as six would be riding along on my leg or sleeve — and there were probably more I couldn’t see. I took a photo of one hoping to find out what she was when I got home.
After a little work, I discovered that she is a Mayfly. I learned a lot about them. I learned that they were around during the dinosaur time, that they spend most of their lives as eggs, babies and sub-adults, that as adults they have no mouths and don’t need them. The live long enough to mate. Interesting priorities, but apparently good for the survival of these delicate creatures. There’s no way to dispute that such a bizarre evolutionary “choice” makes it easy for them to focus during the very brief moments of their adult lives. Yes, there’s a useful metaphor there.
They are harmless (except, perhaps, for the metaphor) and, what’s more, their presence is a sign of good water quality. They can’t endure pollution of any kind. That speaks very well for the care given the wetlands in my world.
I began to regard them as truly wondrous little hitchhikers. I wouldn’t have seen any last year. This part of their life cycle would have been eliminated by the early snow and hard freezes.
I’ve never gotten to know a wet-land. My life has been spent in dry places, not swamps, so I’m learning something all the time.
Somewhere along the way, Bear stopped, sat, leaned against me, and pointed her nose south. The breeze stopped for a few minutes and I could hear an uproar of cranes in the distance, far out of my sight. Bear, of course, with her amazing dog senses, knew the cranes were there and what was happening with them. I stopped to watch and soon understood what was going on. The young bald eagle had been flying over the group of cranes hoping for an easy meal. That’s what caused the momentary crane-rage. He flew low over the emptiness as I watched. I can’t say I’m privy to the motives of raptors, but I sensed he was trying to save face, kind of, “I didn’t want any of you nasty cranes, anyway. I’m looking for a rabbit!”