A flock of Sandhill Cranes!
As I was sitting outside under an oak tree yesterday minding my own business and fully absorbed in re-reading The Hobbit, gently (even affectionately) turning the yellowed pages of my old paperback edition, I became lost in a kind of dream that went thusly: How very like The Hill my present location was, how oddly similar to the Hobbit hole was the gopher tortoise hole at the foot of the big old oak tree next to me (all it lacked was a nice round green door with a brass knob in the middle of it), how fairly unremarkable it would seem to me at that moment to look up and see a number of hooded dwarves skipping out of the woods just over there en route to Mr. Baggins’ abode, when all of a sudden a rising whine, a whine similar to a downed live electric wire, interrupted my pleasant reverie and I was forced by my survival instincts to put the book down and attend more realistically to my surroundings.
To wit: Oh crap, what the hell is that?
Annoyed, I discovered the plaintive noise was emitted by neither a life threatening live wire nor by a mind-bending incidence of sorcery or dwarvish impudence. Nay, it was keened by a clutch of my canine compadres, specifically by Sweetie Pie, Cutie Pie, Barney and Gumbo who, rather than having their noses characteristically trained on the ground (nosing around) had them elevated toward the clouds. This was, in fact, plenty of cause for alarm to me—I’d never seen them whine skyward before. I quickly deduced it must be an inbound scud missile, a UFO or a tornado bearing down on us. Whatever, my eyes too shot up (as I told them to shut up).
What we all then beheld in unison was a soaring elegant performance by a flock of migrating Sandhill Cranes as they wheeled back and forth overhead evaluating our little farm as a respectable safe place to put in for the evening. Not a wing moved, not a feather—as far as I could tell—as these huge whitish long-necked and gamine-legged beauties sailed on the wind so gracefully and magnificently, as if they were afloat safely on the breath of God Himself.
I did not join in the whining, but I confess my jaw dropped and I gaped. Effortless, whitely serene against a clear winter blue sky, they careened overhead back and forth, enormous oar-like wings motionless as they dipped and soared, taking in the terrain below. The vision lasted a few minutes, I’m sure, and then—poof—they just disappeared like vapor—or a daydream—in search of more favorable overnight lodgings.
It was, especially after the awful, heartbreaking news recently, a welcome reminder for me, for all of us maybe, to look up, not down, for revelation and truth. To quit sniffing and sorting through the dirt underfoot for clues to life’s mysteries, but instead to crane our necks, lift our eyes and stretch our hearts toward the clouds and the stars for strength and confirmation of the value of life. For if we do, if we keep our eyes set on higher things, searching the heavens, I am convinced by the message the cranes brought, in their determined quest and confident journey mounting in faith on the wind beneath their wings, that we too will move forward and find all that we need when we need it.
December 17, 2012
(c) Copyright 2013, Margaret Langstaff
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