Each year, as the fireweed goes to seed, the cranberries hang heavy on their bushes, and the potatoes await harvest, sandhill cranes migrating south with their young rest in the wetlands near our meadow. As we roust spuds from the dirt we are treated to a concert, the high whistling chirp of the babies intermingling with the melodic chortle of their parents.
The voices of these cranes have stirred something deep within my soul ever since I was two. As I toddled about the garden decked out in baby fat and raingear, the cranes flapped into view. When their voices first reached my ears l pointed a pudgy finger to the sky and said “Look Mama, cranes!”
Why is it, I wonder, that out of the whistles, croaks, and gurgles I hear every day, the sound of cranes, which I hear just a few weeks a year, rings so deeply in my heart? Maybe it’s simply the time of year they come, when I’m already filled to the brim with gratitude from the harvest and the cranes put me over the top. Maybe it’s just the cranes’ story. Their ancestors’ voices, identical to the ones I hear today, rang across North America when it was covered in three toed horses and hippos, ten million years ago. Maybe it’s the sound alone that attracts me. The unique gurgling crrrrr of a thousand voices, so mesmerizing that it still rings in my ears when the cranes are out of sight.
Whatever the answer, when the harvest is finished and our summer’s work is a gorgeous mountain of vegetables, the joy of my happily aching arms and tired feet is topped by the flight of cranes. A bell within me that has been silenced to a memory since last fall rings again.
Linnea Lentfer has lived all of her eleven years in Gustavus Alaska with the critical habitat area for migrating cranes just outside her front door. She has just begun her first year of homeschooling which she enjoys immensely and is looking forward to the new opportunities it will give her. In addition to writing she likes to spend her free time playing the fiddle and reading but most of all time outdoors (preferably barefoot) in the beautiful place she is fortunate enough to call home.
7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.
7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. Join me on October 13 for a guest post with children's book author Lois Brandt.