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December 15th 2009

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   I think in the population of Sandhill Cranes that pass our ground during migration and sometimes pause for refreshment amongst corn fields and along river banks, there is one individual crane that has been ostracized by the wider community of cranes.

   I saw him again this morning, calling to himself as he flew toward the south west.  And though my memory is badly flawed, it does retain a record of a similar sighting of one individual crane around this time last year.  He was on an almost identical flight path.

   Last year I concluded that his loneliness was a consequence of injury and I felt confident that he was doomed to misplace his objective, get lost amongst some other species, fall foul of patterns that would deny him a full and happy life.  For some weeks he continued in my imagination as I levered possibilities from the circumstance of his history.  I saw his flight as belonging to desperation, and I heard his call as belonging to a frenzy that would soon result in a tiredness from which there could be no return. 

    

    

    This morning there was in my mind no concept of coincidence.  It was clearly the same Crane, and clearly he had managed his year with success, and within him he still retained those elements of unsettled energy that had so drawn me to him twelve months previously.  But this time when I saw him I felt no concern for him.  

    Instead I pictured his clan in their winter place, sentries posted.  One eye always on the sky, ear to the ground, watching, while clan leaders held conference.   Ostracism is no easy matter.  It requires a commitment to absent sympathy over time, and within the families of Crane some were beginning to question an uncharitable decision.  

    The exiled had his better qualities.  Despite his noisiness and despite his idea of personal space, he was mostly cheerful and he was quite unable to bear a grudge.  The snoring, his appalling personal habits, his lack of symmetry, all forgivable.   And then, on the grey horizon, sentries see him.  Everyone becomes very still.  

    But I have long been prone to flights of imagination that usurp reasonableness and destroy credibility. 

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tim candler

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(Sandhill Crane)