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 ….

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 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 …