I thought of you today, Ken, as I now do whenever I am fortunate enough to witness the sandhill cranes’ migration north in March, or south in November.
As usual, I heard them before I saw them, but with a new twist today: I was actually inside my house this time, when it gradually crept in upon my consciousness that I was hearing a faint sound which could, I realized with some excitement, be the sound of cranes passing overhead. I quickly stepped out my front door (not even taking time to grab a coat or a mask) in time to spot several squadrons passing overhead, in slightly ragged formation.
I don’t have your columns that have talked about the cranes in front of me, but I’d be willing to bet that you like about them what I also like: the way they mark so beautifully the changing of the seasons (in a way that is immeasurably better than the much-despised time changes that also occur each March and November).
And perhaps even more than that, the way in which they give us the rare gift of majesty — so rare, especially these days when we’re mostly confined to Oak Park and mostly indoors.
It strikes me that the cranes’ migration is in this way nearly perfectly opposed to the Air and Water Show (whose jets sometimes also pass over Oak Park), which overwhelms our senses with shock and awe. With the cranes, on the other hand, we often have to strain our senses, in order to confirm that we really are hearing and seeing them pass high overhead. And to me, it is this very remoteness that gives the cranes’ migration its majesty, leaving us feeling very fortunate indeed, when we witness their passing.
May we both still be here for their next passing (and many more to come!) and may the collective “we” have turned several crucial metaphorical corners (at least 2-3 if I’m a little greedy) by the time they pass this way again.