We live beneath a bird highway. Every year thousands of Sandhill Cranes use the highway to fly back and forth to summer breeding grounds and winter feeding grounds. They mark the changes of summer to autumn and winter to spring for us. We use them to keep track of our lives.
We heard the first cranes of this year’s autumn today and thought of these fine words about cranes from Aldo Leopold:
When we hear his call we hear no mere bird. We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution. He is the symbol of our untamable past, of that incredible sweep of millennia which underlies and conditions the daily affairs of birds and men.
Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language. The quality of cranes lies, I think, in this higher gamut, as yet beyond the reach of words.