Cranes

4

It’s raining on this, the last morning of writer’s school—my last chance to spot a moose. I choose the Chester Creek trail even though it doesn’t offer the best chance of encountering big animals. I just hope to watch the sandhill cranes.

It’s windy. Last night a gust knocked over a portal toilet that is used by residents of a makeshift camp. Near downtown I pass a pile of black trash bags, each stuffed full of the possessions of homeless people. The only mammals I spot on the ride to Westchester Lagoon wear spandex and high tech rain gear.

1

At the lagoon’s western edge the resident Canada geese wait out the wind. Comfortable in such a large group, each goose seems reluctant to yield enough space on the bike path for a jogger and I to pass. Surviving the geese traffic jam, I pedal to the mouth of a small slough. The ratcheting cry of two cranes reaches me as I put on the brakes. Another pair of sandhills flies low over the singing birds.

3

The feeding pair stretch out their long necks when another crane call sounds. Soon five cranes gather to feed at the edge of salt water even as a bald eagle flies over at hunting height. One crane seems to stand guard as the others feed in pairs. There is no morning class scheduled to force my departure but I only stay ten minutes. The cranes might stay nearby all morning or explode into flight in seconds. But I feel sated, like I might after a rich dinner followed by cake.

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