Thursday, January 22, 2015

Crane Watching - Connections

         Tara Smith at A Teaching Life is the host for this winter's Poetry Friday. Thanks Tara. I hope the sharing today warms us all up!

           I enjoy reading the poems sent to my inbox every day, good to read, to wake me up with some wonderful words. And once in a while there is a strong connection, which happened this past week. We in Denver are in one of the flyways of the migrating sandhill cranes, and a long time ago, whooping cranes. Sandhill cranes are the most prolific cranes, while whooping cranes have made a comeback according to the International Crane Association from 21 to about 599.
           Years ago my class participated in a crane count in the southwest area of our state. We wrote curriculum for school children and were literally in the field every morning, counting, counting, and observing behavior. One morning we sat quietly behind corn stalks, watching behaviors. At that time, among the numerous sandhill cranes, there were two "odd" ones, a little taller, whiter, with a brighter red head, a whooping crane! I was hooked, and have followed their plight, and comeback, since that experience. 
Greater Sandhill Cranes

Whooping Crane
 
         This week, The Writer's Almanac posted a poem that speaks of cranes, and more, by William Stafford. Some of you may have seen it, but here it is again, along with a few photos.

        Watching Sandhill Cranes

Spirits among us have departed--friends,
relatives, neighbors; we can't find them.
If we search and call, the sky merely waits.
Then some day here come the cranes
planing in from cloud or mist--sharp,
lonely spears, awkwardly graceful.

the rest is here.


photo credit: greenheron47 via photopin cc

42 comments:

  1. Hi, Linda, I also subscribe to a Poem a Day, and I just loved this poem! There's something about those cranes. We visited the International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin a few years ago. It was fascinating to see the different kinds of cranes, each adapted to its special environment. https://www.savingcranes.org/

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    1. They are marvelous to see, agreed, Jane, so graceful as they walk the fields, & the flying, oh my! Glad you have seen them, too!

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  2. I can't imagine a crane flyover. I was excited the time a great blue heron flew directly over me! Stafford's poem is very moving, especially "They extend our life." What an assuring line.

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    1. I didn't even share that we saw them at dusk, returning to their wetlands roosts-just heavenly. What a memory you have, too, Diane!

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    2. Actually, it was kind of amazing to see the big airplane-like shadow come over me without any accompanying machine noise. I was stunned by the largeness of it.

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    3. Oh, that sounds wonderful! I was told all my life that if I saw a great blue heron, it meant good luck, so always find it extra special when I see one.

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  3. Oh, thank you for sharing this, Linda! Sandhill cranes are special to me as well. We used to watch them gather at the Bosque Del Apache when I lived in New Mexico. What a sight!

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    1. The Bosque del Apache is a special place, too, Michelle. How wonderful that you've been there. We were in the Alamosa area.

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  4. What a great poem! Love Stafford's work. Enjoyed hearing about your spotting that whooping crane. Wow! And you're lucky to be in one of the sandhills' flyways.

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    1. Thanks, Jama, it is lucky to see so much flying through. I do love the poem!

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  5. Beautiful, Linda - thanks for sharing. I told my hubby Jeff that last year was our "Crane Year" - after seeing public television documentary about African cranes who migrate to N. Europe - the males fly to the nesting site months ahead to prepare for their mates. When I finally got to our new home, Jeff had made paper cranes and put them around the house. :0)

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    1. Oh, what a beautiful story/memory, Robyn. This year of cranes with my class was wonderful, loved studying all kinds, & as I remember, until then, I didn't know there were so many!

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  6. That must have been an incredible learning experience for everyone. I absolutely love the last two lines of the poem.

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    1. It was a special trip for sure, Liz. And you can see why the poem pleased me.

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  7. Such a beautiful poem, Linda. I've been working on a nonfiction manuscript on the geographic regions of Alabama. They are in that same flyzone and host the cranes in refuges across the state. I haven't seen a whooping crane before, but I watch the same "sharp,/lonely spears, awkwardly graceful" movement in the blue heron that visits the creek behind my house. So beautiful. And such a wonderful description in this poem. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. So glad to hear your own connection to this poem, Dori. How wonderful to have a creek behind your house.

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  8. I need to subscribe to a Poem a Day! I loved that you featured sandhill cranes today. I was in the Tampa area over the MLK weekend to visit my parents in Sun City, and I am always enamored with the bird life there. They have quite a few sandhill cranes. I posted a photo of two cranes crossing the road and posted it to Facebook and Instagram. I just love seeing them - so different from Ohio birds! Thank you for sharing Stafford's poem. :-)

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    1. I must have missed your FB post, Holly. That's so great you were able to see the cranes! They are special! Happy you liked the poem, too. I love Stafford's work.

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  9. I saw this poem the other day and wished I could see these cranes. They must be quite a sight. Here, it's a treat to see a heron, but they're usually alone. Thanks for sharing this today with the photos and your memories, Linda.

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    1. You're welcome, Catherine, nice that you saw the poem earlier too. This trip really was a special one.

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  10. Beautiful poem and photos, Linda! I love it when I get a glimpse of cranes, though I haven't seen any in Tucson - LOL! =)

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    1. I have quite a few good bird memories of when I've been in Tucson, too, Bridget. Must be too dry for the cranes.

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  11. "Awkwardly graceful"--that's a perfect description for sandhill cranes! We live at the swampy end of a lake where sandhills gather in the fall (sometimes 40 or more)--so much fun to watch them! I miss their calls in the winter.

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    1. Aren't the calls eerie, but also special, Buffy. That's great that you have the lake birds, & it includes sandhills.

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  12. I love it when a particular poem resonates on such a personal level -- this is the perfect illustration of what the reader brings to the poetry experience. Beautiful birds, too!

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    1. Yes, what a lovely greeting to me that morning, Keri. I like the connecting, too.

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  13. William Stafford is a gem. The idea that watching sandhill cranes extends our life somehow. Something to think about, how slowing down, pulling over, and stopping a while to watch is useful.

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    1. It is something that's good for our students too, Margaret. I spent this day at a museum with my students, watching them slow down & just soak it all in. I hope that experiences like that are something they might learn to treasure.

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  14. What an amazing opportunity that must have been to be out in nature every day, observing cranes.

    How could I have grown up in Colorado and never seen these magnificent birds? Must not be enough water for them in the Outback!

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    1. I think they need vast wetlands when they fly through, Mary Lee, through the middle/western part of the state. They stop on the other side of Denver briefly, but I've only seen them in the four corners area. It was a great trip.

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  15. I never thought of myself as much of a bird watcher, but William Stafford's poem made me realize how much I do watch for birds and how excited I got when I saw my first chickadee the other day. Alas, no cranes in NYC though but I very much enjoyed reading this poem.

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    1. Thanks, Alex, the poem is wonderful, and true!

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  16. I think I live under a rock as I only heard of poem a day today. Sigh. Will look into that. We don't have cranes here. I have never seen cranes, but such a beautiful poem.

    lonely spears, awkwardly graceful.

    I find that line just beautiful, I look at the crane pictures and it fits perfectly. :)

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    1. I'm celebrating that you discovered the Poem a day, and love this poem. Hope you get to see cranes one day!

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  17. I love how Stafford always manages to offer up moments of gracefulness, yet controls them, keeps them real and keeps them from becoming sentimental - he gives us the sharp edge, the loneliness and the awkwardness of the birds and we still see how beautiful they are. Thanks so much for posting this, Linda.

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    1. You're welcome, Julie, & thanks for giving me more to contemplate about Stafford.

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  18. What a great project for your class, Linda! So valuable for them to do. And what serendipity to receive this poem.
    We have a great blue heron who lives near us. After my children's elementary school made a fish pond in their school garden, the heron flew over and had a goldfish snack -- cleaned it out!

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    1. Wow, what a story, Tabatha. Our 'fish' ponds of various friends have been raided mostly by raccoons. Yes it was a great trip!

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  19. It's beautiful, Linda. And I love the way daily poem deliveries sometimes serendipitously slide into our world.

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    1. I know what you mean, there are times when the poems make me smile, a lot!

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  20. I so love the work of William Stafford. His keen observation is the best.

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  21. Linda, providing your students with the learning experience to be young researchers in the field is a wonderful. I remember the days when I had second graders do similar noticings and wonderings as we connected with Cornell University's bird research for students' project. The children observed birds in the neighborhood that would frequent our recycled Christmas tree filled with treats for them. William Stafford opens the door for observation skills to settle in our minds: If we search and call, the sky merely waits. How beautiful!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!