The Crane Continues IV

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The Verdict 

continued ….. I hate them for saying that.  Who are they to decide whether another living thing should live or die?  

They look at each other then back at me.  Without saying a word I know the verdict. 

I look at the crane, its head feathers tousled by an on shore breeze remembering the moment I saw its head above the cat tails such a short while ago.  So much had happened during that brief span of time.

Then I have an idea!  I open my mouth to tell them I could take the crane back to the swale where I found it so it can die in peace but, it’s too late.  Jake is already more than halfway to the curve.

Waiting for Death

I follow Jake to his house where I sit hunched over on an old wooden bench made from two tree stumps and a thick board facing eastward toward the lake, waiting for Jake to emerge from his house not knowing what to expect.

Halfway between where I sit and the the top of the rise at the far end of the lane, the crane stands motionless on one spindly leg, the left side of it’s body in profile it’s long neck and beak sharply defined.  

The lake appears as a grayish blue ribbon between the top of the dune at the end of the lane and the pale blue afternoon sky reflecting off the horizon line.“

I’m wondering if the crane was aware of my presence back when I stared into its unblinking eye thinking I had seen a flicker of awareness?  Had we really made a connection back in the swale where Gray had made her discovery?

The crane seems lifeless now almost like a statue. Maybe I was imagining things.

I hear Jake approach.

Jake’s Gun

The double barrels of Jake’s shotgun appear pointing skyward to my left.  Jake lowers the gun barrels so that they’re pointing at the ground while, with his thumb against the locking lever he jerks up sharply. The barrels, one on top of the other crack open.

Jake cradles the open shotgun against the left side of his body.  I see into the black holes of the ‘over and under’ shotgun barrels waiting to be loaded with the fat red shells Jake holds in his right hand.

With one continuous motion, Jake’s thumb press the two shells into their chambers then, pulls up while pushing down at the same time locking the double barrels into place. 

The barrels of the shotgun move upward disappearing from my field of vision as I continue to stare at the bird its head feathers ruffling in the breeze as I had seen them do back in the swale after Gray’s discovery brought us together.

Red Feathers 

I can’t take my eyes off of those dancing feathers it feels like I’m in two places at the same time.

In some strange way maybe those feathers are acknowledgement that, there HAD been a connection between us. Things can be funny like that sometimes can’t they?

The air is still.. I’m not breathing.  

Unable to move I feel frozen in place and time.  

The only sound? Deadly silence when, without warning an explosion lifts me off my seat!.  I’m falling over backward but manage to regain my balance.  

At precisely the same moment the explosion rocks my world I witness the most amazing sight I’ve ever seen.  

continued …. Inanimate 

 

The Crane Part III

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Lowering the Crane 

I lower the big crane onto the sand in the open field across from the cottage.  The instant its feet touch the ground its head drops back into the S position.

Before running around to the back, I stop and look into its eye one more time.  I see no flicker of awareness.  Instead, the same blank stare I saw when I first looked into its eye when?  Was it less than an hour ago??

So many experiences crammed into such a short period of time!

I run to the back of the cottage where I tell Donna about the big bird. I tell her how beautiful it is.  “Maybe it’s sick,” I tell her, “But, we can feed it frogs, nurse it back to health like you did with the baby squirrels.”

I run around the side of the cottage, anxious to get back to the crane.  Halfway there, I turn and look behind.  Donna stands motionless, her mouth agape, staring at the crane.  .

She Strokes Its Neck

To reassure her I stand next to the crane, lightly touching its back. 

The crane opens its eyes unfurls its long neck, while slowly turning its head left to right before staring straight ahead, motionless.  

Unable to resist Donna caresses its long neck with the back of her hand, speaking to it in low tones, while asking me stupid questions like, did the bird act like it was sick? 

Jake Willis 

I sense her feelings are warming to the subject so, I say to her. “‘Well Jeez, I don’t know mom.  I’ve never met a sick bird before.” Her smile is soft … and caring.  

Jake Willis, the old guy living on the opposite side of the curve three houses west appears out of nowhere.  We become a group of three thinking indecision. 

Jake isn’t saying much.  He squints a little staring at the crane his thumb and index finger moving along his chin line, in deep thought.  

Donna repeats her concern that the bird could be sick only this time, she looks to Jake for confirmation.

Jake asks me if the bird tried to stab me in the eye.  I just stare at him.

They insist the bird could have blinded me.  They tell me the bird is too sick to live. 

The Verdict 

I hate them for saying that.  Who are they to decide whether another living thing should live or die?  

They look at each other then back at me.  Without saying a word I knew the verdict. 

I look at the crane, its head feathers tousled by an on shore breeze.remembering the moment I saw its head above the cat tails such a short while ago.  

Then I have an idea!  I open my mouth to tell them I could take the crane back to the swale where I found it so it can die in peace.  Alas!  It’s too late.  Jake is already more than halfway to the curve.

Next: Waiting For Death

Constructing the Crane

A Story About A Boy and His Pet Crane 

The Crane: Prologue 

They said the crane was too sick to live!  They insisted it would poke out my eye.  

This was adult thinking at its worst!  The kind of overly cautious bullshit thought that leads to really stupid decisions.  

I hated them for using untrue accusations as a justification to steal the life away from something alive and beautiful. 

The crane had become a friend I had made a connection with when our paths first crossed only an hour and a half earlier.  As … 

Earlier 

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Gray (my Weimereiner dog and constant companion) and I were minding our own business, 100 yards south of Jerry’s Marina along the shoreline of Tawas Bay in northern Michigan where, fifteen minutes ago I had fallen off the dock into the oily marina water after riding too slow to keep my balance. 

Still damp, I take one last look over at Jerry’s remembering my humiliation shrug it off  and begin walking the lime rock road alongside a swale, toward the black top that will take me back to the cottage, while Gray sloshes around in a foot or so of water at the bottom of the swale trying to pick up the scent of some animal within the thick growth of cattails,  when I hear Gray barking non-stop.

Gray’s Discovery 

I walk a little further to where Gray is barking at a giant water crane standing in the shallow water at the bottom of the swale, its head above the cattails, where it was probably hunting for frogs when Gray made her discovery.

Gray continues to bark while circling the crane occasionally pausing to sniff or nip at its leg.

The crane looks unafraid,  strangely motionless seemingly unaware of the dog’s barking or my presence.  

I decide to take a closer look.

I slide down the embankment then creep through the cattails careful not to make sudden movements or splash water.

The crane slowly curls its long neck into a flattened S shape the back half resting along its spine its head and beak in profile.

Suddenly it occurs to me that if I take one more step the bird might fly away. I never thought I’d get a chance to be so close to such a beautiful bird.  I want to soak in all the details of its beauty before it’s too late.  

Feathers, Neck, Beak,

I admire the curve of its head, the tiny nostril holes on each side of its beak perhaps ten or twelve inches long.  Red mini feathers dance in the wind on the crown of its head.  .

I see tiny scales covering its stick-like legs each smaller than a dime overlapping themselves like tiny shingles, smooth aerodynamic in design.

I look at the variations of gray coloring along the short hairs of its neck that gradually lengthen into 6 to 12 inch feathers covering its wings, so large that they stretch the length of its entire body from its breastbone to the end of its tail feathers.  It’s feathers lie next to each other, slightly overlapped like a tightly louvered fan pointing downward while standing.

more ….

When Night Birds Take Morning Flight

When Night Birds Take Morning Flight

I watched night birds take night time flight.

While breezes washed ashore

I walked the line where all three meet.

Sky within dark water,

waves of moonlight,

sparkling grains of sand

reflecting light

below/above …

between each other’s sight

within their kisses

of the night …

I looked into the grounds of sweet good byes,

the thought of daylight in disguise,

my thoughts on morning’s rise,  with

each new morning’s light;

the sky that touches deep within

the sound of inland seas.

I climbed back into bed and slept again.

With speckled stars above the nighttime breeze

with moonlight showing through the leaves

I’ll sleep ‘till morning light

when

daylight birds

take morning

flight …

 

When Daylight Birds Take Morning Flight

When Daylight Birds Take Morning Flight

I was up before seven
I made a pot of coffee

I swept the floor
I listened to the radio

I poured the coffee
I put sugar and cream in

I climbed back into bed and slept
until the dawn of night.

I watched the moon arch overhead
from orange to milky white;

silver dollar sized
with full moon’s

full moon
light.

I watched night birds take night time flight.

While breezes washed ashore
I walked the line where all three meet;

sky within dark water,
waves of moonlight,

sparkling grains of sand
reflecting light below/above …

between each other’s sight

within their night time

kisses ..

I looked into the grounds of sweet good byes
the thought of daylight in disguise;

my thoughts on morning rising with
each new morning’s light,

the sky that touches deep within,
the sound of inland seas.

With speckled stars above the nighttime breeze

with moonlight showing through the leaves

I’ll sleep ‘till morning light …

when day begins

and daylight birds
take morning

flight …

 

Setting Free the Birds

Setting Free the Birds

 Unknown-2

I was the smoking monitor for ten patients, in the screened porch one day.

I lit their cigarettes. They smoked and we talked.

Next to me sat gracious, sweet southern born Clara, her ankles swollen twice their size, blue, onion thin skin, ripped and torn, wrapped in gauze.

Deserted by her children,  she lives in a movable lounge chair forever her prison, crying, ‘’Help, help,’’ all night, every night.

Suddenly two female cardinals streaked past attaching themselves to the screen in front of us, their tails fanned, the sun highlighting beautiful shades of brown with red streaks.

Desperate to escape they skittered from panel to panel.

I herded them toward the opening saying,  ‘No, go that way!” or  ‘’No, go back!”

First one found freedom, curved upward and disappeared.

Confused, the other flew past the opening moving further away from freedom.

I moved past and with hands raised shouted, “It’s your turn now GO!”

She dropped from the screen, scooped low and was absorbed by the pale blue sky.

Turning toward Clara I watched tears of despair spill over onto her cheeks.

When our eyes met, I knew exactly how she felt.

Daylight Birds Take Morning Flight

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Daylight Birds Take Morning Flight

I was up before seven
I made a pot of coffee
I swept the floor
I listened to the radio

I poured the coffee
I put sugar and cream in
I climbed back into bed and slept
until the dawn of night.

I watched the moon arch overhead
from orange to milky white; silver dollar sized
with full moon’s
full moon light.

I watched night birds take night time flight.

While breezes washed ashore beside
I walked the line where all three meet; the sky
within dark water, waves of moonlight,
sparkling grains of sand reflecting light below/above
between each others sight

within the kiss of  night … 

I looked into the grounds of sweet good byes/the thought of daylight in disguise/the sky that touches deep within …

The sound of inland seas.

I climbed back into bed and slept again.

With speckled stars above the nighttime breeze
with moonlight showing through the trees
I’ll sleep ‘till morning light
when day begins
and daylight birds
take morning
flight …

The Crane: Final Moments

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I followed Jake to his house.  I sat on a bench facing the bird half way between where I sat and the lake.  I hoped his neck was long enough to see the lake.

I thought back.  I wondered if the bird was aware of my presence down in  the swale when we stared into each others eyes.  I thought we had made a connection but maybe I was imagining things.

I heard Jake approach, I looked up.  The barrel of the shotgun pointed skyward.  Jake swung it down so it pointed at the ground, unlocked it,  jerked upward and cracked it open.

I looked into the black hole of the barrel waiting to be loaded with the fat, red shotgun shell.  The shell made a thunking sound when it dropped into the gun barrell.

Jake snapped the the barrel shut and locked it.

The barrel moved upward disappearing from my field of vision.

I continued to stare at the bird.  It’s head feathers ruffled in the breeze.  I remembered seeing them ruffle back in the swale.  Maybe it was waving good bye.  Things are funny that way.

The air stopped moving.  I couldn’t hear a sound.  I couldn’t move.  I held my breath.  It seemed like time had stopped.  All I heard was deadly silence.

The explosion almost knocked me off the bench!

At the precise moment the explosion rocked me I saw one of the most amazing sights I had ever seen in my life.

continued …

The Crane IV

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I moved closer, wrapped both arms beneath the crane’s belly and lifted it out of the water.  I carried it up the side of the swale to the gravel road, turned right onto the black top where I began moving toward the cottage with the bird in my arms trying to see over the top of its back, feeling its wing feathers against my chin and the side of my face.

I stayed focused on the road ahead, straining to keep the bird’s talons from scraping the black top, oblivious of the passing cars, their honks, stupid comments and questions.

The dog trotted along keeping a wary out for my safety while the bird, its neck fully extended gazed at the passing trees and empty spaces along the side of the road.

Walking along, I pictured myself nursing the bird back to health; feeding it, loving it, giving it life once again, then watching it fly away free to ride the wind currents once again aware of its world with a renewed desire to live.

I had watched my mom raise 6 baby squirrels from the time they were hairless, no bigger than her pinky finger feeding them every 4 hours 24 hours a day for weeks until they grew and became such a nuisance, all six of them climbing over her body like she was a small tree, tangling her hair, knocking her glasses off, that she finally set them free.

Surely she would help me rescue the bird.

I had high hopes for my friend the great Crane, who had allowed me to gaze into its eye and be part of its life.

Little did I know what was in store for both of us.

continued …

The Crane III: Revisited

… that it would … rise up and up effortlessly higher and higher flying free over clouds of air; wind clouds they can see that we earth bound beings could never even imagine.

images I moved slowly, cautiously until we stood motionless next to each other.  I sensed a strangeness about its lack of movement, as if it was in a trance.  I looked closer into its eye, the iris a thin orange/blood red ribbon surrounding the the pupil so large it nearly filled its entire eye socket, a dark black pool without a flicker of life.

I had hoped to see some sign of awareness.  Something that would tell me it wasn’t dead or dying when suddenly it broke out of its trance.

It’s pupil flickered, a spark of sunlight reflected off the black pool.  Its iris contracted, the dark pool grew smaller until it found a focal point.

Its eye tracked from place to place over my face feeling bewildered perhaps by my curious movements, the soft shapes and colors of my face, the black pool of my awareness filling his field of vision so different from its  everyday world spent gliding high, looking down at ponds and streams, wading through water searching … always searching to satisfy the hunger that gives life meaning … the desire to live.

Suddenly I knew it was alive! It had awareness! I felt a link between our searching ever curious minds.

continued …

images-2seen before extrodinaire …

The Crane II

When I heard her frenzied barking I thought that maybe she had cornered a raccoon or skunk.

Unknown-1A giant water crane its head above the cattails, stood in the shallow water at the bottom of the swale probably hunting for frogs when the dog made her discovery.

The dog continued to bark while circling the crane occasionally pausing to sniff or nip at its leg.

The crane looked unafraid,  strangely motionless seemingly unaware of the dog’s barking or my presence.  I decided to take a closer look.

I slid down the embankment then crept through the cattails careful not to make sudden movements or splash water.

The crane slowly curled its long neck into a flattened S shape the back half resting along its spine its head and beak in profile.

Suddenly it occurred to me that if I took one more step the bird might fly away.  I froze all movement perhaps 15 feet away.  I never would have imagined I’d be so close to such a magnificent creature.  I wanted to soak in all the details of its beauty while I had the chance.

While I admired the curve of its head flowing toward the sharp point of its beak perhaps ten inches long, a puff of wind ruffled the short fur like feathers that crowned its head.

I looked down at the tiny scales covering its stick-like legs each smaller than a dime overlapping themselves like tiny shingles,  aerodynamic in design, the same reason the rivets of a plane are ground smooth.

I looked at the variations of gray coloring along the short hairs of its neck that gradually grew into 6 to 12 inch feathers covering its wings, so large that they stretched the length of its entire body from its long neck back to the thin tail feathers lying next to each other, slightly overlapped when not in use, like a tightly louvered fan pointing downward while standing.

I pictured its wings in flight the shorter round feathers at the back edge of each three foot wing vibrating or fluttering through the air like the sensitive fingers of a pianist each in tune with the incremental movements needed to stabilize and offset the great strength it took to create forward thrust; the lazy movement of its tail feathers,  at the will of wind currents, telling the bird to bank and glide left or right or,  in the vacuum at the rear of the bird created by  strong headwinds, to climb along the soft or violent surface of the approaching wind pushing against the the flared shape of its breast bone.  Two parts of its body telling it to rise up and up effortlessly higher and higher flying free over clouds of air they can see, that we earth bound beings could never even imagine.

continued …

The Crane

UnknownThe crane had become a living, conscious being to me.  A friend I felt I had made a connection with.  

But, it didn’t matter what I said.  They insisted the bird could have blinded me with its needle pointed beak!   Then they said it was too sick to live!  Baloney!

I hated the excuses  they tried to foist upon me to justify the theft of life from such a beautiful living creature admired and marveled at while alive.   

This was adult thinking at its worst.  The kind of overly cautious bullshit thinking that so easily proclaimed the death sentence of this the magnificent creature I brought home for them to see;

with its gorgeous, long flight or stability feathers and long powerful wings, the soft tapered miniature red feathers on the crown of its head tripping about so easily in the breeze or lying flat as its powerful wings pulled itself  through the air its long neck retracted into a tight S for aerodynamic flight, the gentle curve of its  forehead tapering a foot or more  to the sharp point between its two eyes ever searching stereoscopically to find and impale frogs and small fish tossing its next meal into the air and down its gullet.       

… into an inanimate object its head and beak in profile against the sand, the black iris I had looked into less than an hour ago sensing its awareness, now covered with an opaque film its lifeless eye and head and beak attached to an inanimate object looking like a mound gray feathers lying flat against the sand even at that moment, being absorbed into the ground.

One and A Half Hours Earlier

With bicycle between the crotch of my jeans, I stood at the end of a lime rock road looking 200 yards into the past, my clothes still damp from having fallen sideways (with bike), off a dock, into oily dark water over at Jerry’s two hundred yards north along the shore of the bay.   when

riding by, something inside the boat had captured my attention.

I stopped pedaling to look more closely, lost balance, fell off the dock sideways, my head going under, a humiliating sight!  

A downstate fisherman gave his hand pulling me to the surface dripping wet his laughing voice along the way made it seem easy with laughing face he pulled us up first my bike, then me.  I rode away so humiliated I barely thanked the man.  

And now I stand with bicycle between the crotch of my jeans, at the end of a lime rock road while Gray, a three year old weimereir my constant companion and protector sloshes and sniffs her way through two feet of water thick with cat tails at the bottom of the swale running parallel to the one lane lime rock road I’ll soon be walking.  

 

 

And do you know what? continued …

 

The Animal Chronicles: Cardinals Escape From Prison !

… so as you already know … my cat and i have conversations all day … she speaks well … her tail moves with great eloquence … i always know exactly what she is saying even though i can’t always put what she says into words …

i don’t have any more cat stories … (not right now anyway …) but i have a whole plethora of stories about animals … including one about … a couple of female cardinals i helped escape from prison …

… Cardinals …

Unknown-2

One day a few 

years ago when i 

worked

at a 

nursing 

home  …

it was my turn to be the

‘smoking monitor’

for a group of 

ten to twelve patients 

in the screened porch …

where they are

allowed to

smoke …

…..

I lit their 

cigarettes …

…..

while they smoked we 

talked …

…..

next to me sat gracious, sweet 

southern born 

Clara …  

her legs 

blue, 

swollen twice their size, 

blood like red ink on a 

blotter showing through 

gauze wrapped around onion 

thin skin  

ripped and 

torn … from the 

slightest 

movement against any hard 

surface …

…..

deserted by her  children  a

movable lounge chair forever her 

prison 

she cries,  

‘’help, help, help,’’ all night, every 

night …

…..

suddenly two female cardinals 

attached themselves to 

the screen in front of 

us …

…..

sunlight 

highlighted

subtle shades of brown

and 

red streaks

 within their 

tail feathers

splayed 

agains the 

screen … 

…..

clara sat forward 

remarking, 

“… my goodness … how lucky are we to 

see something so beautiful so 

close … !”

…..

suddenly they 

began leap frogging from

panel to panel

back and 

forth

desperate to find their 

freedom …

 ….. 

i rose, herding  them saying,  

‘No, go that way!” or pointed saying 

‘’Keep going straight 

toward that 

opening … ‘’

….. 

one

found the opening

curved  upward into the

blue sky

and 

disappeared …

…..

the other flew 

too far …

attaching herself to the

screen

on the other side of the 

opening … 

…..

by herself now 

searching left to right …

she seemed more

confused  than 

ever …

…..

i walked behind  

her saying,

’’It’s your turn now 

GO!” …

…..

she let go 

fell to the 

left … 

scooped low, rose up and within 

seconds

was a tiny speck within the 

immensity of the sky

before 

disappearing

completely …

…..

i looked back at 

clara …

tears of  pain streaming down her 

cheeks …

…..

thinking

…..

if anyone knows how those cardinals 

felt 

 it was

She …