Bear and I headed out on this beautiful afternoon for a saunter. The leaves on the mountains are continuing their magical transformation to gold. The air was cool; the sky covered by low, fluffy clouds. Seldom does the sky here in the Big Empty feel so close. The light changed continually. It was perfect.

As we were walking back to Bella, a brand new Hyundai stopped. The driver rolled down his window and Bear jumped up to say “Hi!” which the vast (meaning everyone but this guy) majority of crane tourists encourage and enjoy and which the man did not like at all. Good grief! She could scratch the paint! I apologized and lifted Bear’s feet from the car thinking the guy’s priorities were messed up. Then he said, “Have you seen anything?”

I was thinking, “Everything. There’s all kinds of everything around here.” I thought of another tourist a while back who, when I asked if he were looking for cranes, said, “I’m happy to see anything.” I also thought the paint on a car is meaningless compared to experiencing a joyful, friendly, giant-breed white dog jumping up to meet you. We might try not to be judgmental, but I think we fail a lot at it. I fail constantly.

“You mean cranes?” I said.


“It’s not the best time of day, but they’re around.” I told him and his wife where I thought they were most likely to be (near the barley fields). We chatted for a bit and I seriously plugged the wonders of the Crane Festival in the spring, and explained that while there are a lot of people, most of them like the tours in the school busses because they are sure they’ll see something and they get a wildlife biologist riding along to show and tell. I explained that crane tourists are not like other people, that they’re interested in cranes and very kind and respectful. They got the idea that coming back in spring might be a good idea. They only live 3 hours away so they could do that. Then I explained that there’s more crane activity at dawn and sunset. His wife chimed in with quite a bit more warmth and charm. It was a pleasant, pretty typical, conversation with crane tourists.

We went on our way and here came an old guy (my age) on a bicycle. “Hey, he said, “you dyed your hair to match your dog!” I laughed. He commented rapturously about the “perfect day” and I heartily agreed.

And this is what we saw (along with a Harris hawk and young bald eagle hunting).

32 thoughts on “Redemption

  1. Some people just don’t appreciate when a dog takes the initiative… he should have been honored that Bear was being friendly instead of protective and aggressive! The photo of the snow shower is amazing! Looks like you saw it all and then some!!

    • Bear can be scary. She’s pretty big, but that really was the first time a driver wasn’t absolutely delighted to have the Bear Crane Tourist Greeting Experience. We had a wonderful, wonderful walk. ❤

  2. Hang on! I understand that you will be getting some pre-winter weather in a few days. Snow in the valleys.

    I agree with you on the man’s priorities. Nothing is better than having a big fluffy friendly dog say hello. The world is going to hell because not everyone understands this.

  3. Redemption. It’s a beautiful thing. Around my area there are a lot of people I meet like the guy on the bike~only when I’m on a trail of sorts it seems. I’ll never understand the value placed in our “things”. Let’s hurry and stress out at our jobs so we can pay for huge homes and all the things that we have to buy that stress us out more. I’m speaking to the choir. The Big Empty really knows how to give love~that snow though. It was snowing in Alaska when zip left and so begins a long winter for them.

  4. Dang it, I miss the Valley. Was there from 1997 until late 1999. I’ve been back twice. Time to travel again… heh, maybe for the crane fest. I used to tell people I was building a crane feeder in our back yard. I’d get great double takes.

    • I just got a vision of you ripping out your lawn and planting barley… Yeah, come back. We have a BEAUTIFUL new building for the education/craft fair during the Crane Festival. The people who manage the refuge have put up very lovely educational signage here and there and cleared a parking place in a somewhat remote barley field for crane watching. As for me, I’ve traveled quite a lot in my life, but being “trapped” in the SLV for the past 1 1/2 years has been no hardship at all. It’s Heaven.

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