Thursday, April 30, 2015

Never Brag

Last October I posted a blog entitled ‘Personal Ad’. In it, I itemized my attributes (a short list) and my less attractive features (a long list). 

 Among the attributes I cited were good teeth and hair.

Ah well.

I’ve always been a little proud of my hair – like the girl with natural curls in the ‘Peanuts’ cartoon strip. Now it seems that that hair is thinning. Mostly on top. Comb-overs don’t work. I got some ‘bodifying’ shampoo and some stuff you sprinkle on to cover the gaps. It will have to do.

Even last October, I said my hair was ‘okay’ … not amazing. I must have known then that my locks were failing.

But as I cited my faults – being near-sighted, hard of hearing, overweight, and borderline diabetic-- I repeatedly affirmed that “my teeth are good.”

Never write things like that. You are just tempting fate … or something.

When I went to the dentist last week, I was informed that one tooth will have to go. Fortunately, it is toward the rear of my mouth so when it’s extracted I won’t look I belong in the ‘Li’l Abner’ comic strip (does anyone still remember that?). But still there will be a gap (unless I pay $4,000 for an implant, which is not likely).

In my defense, it’s a ‘baby’ tooth. And it’s remarkable that it has lasted as many decades as it has (I refuse to enumerate).

And the rest of my teeth are still okay. I hope. I dare not say more.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Colorado Wardrobes

Beginning Late February, sometimes March, I keep an assortment of outerwear by my backdoor. It includes my Michelin-Man quilted coat; a lined waterproof jacket; two varieties of rain gear; and the vest I bought at a Monument Valley gift shop when the temperature plummeted just as we were about to tour the valley.

There are probably a couple of cardigans as well – although these tend to live upstairs. My ‘good coat’ and mid-weight coat reside sometimes by the front door and sometimes in a closet. Various gloves, hats, and scarves are always kept handy.

Footwear is even more indicative of external conditions—fully-lined snow boots; more diminutive snow boots and two kinds of sandals. Oh and one pair of ‘good shoes’ for rare festive occasions.

No one who has lived in Colorado for one calendar year thinks these assortments are anything but apt. Temperatures can swing from subzero to sixty, even eighty, in the months between Christmas and summer.

No one puts their snow shovels away until after Mothers Day … sometimes not ‘til after Memorial Day.

If you’ve moved here from somewhere else – especially someplace with clearly defined seasons – all this takes some getting used to. But once we’re used to it, we come to expect the unexpected.

We smile when the trees blossom, hoping that the inevitable snowstorms don’t damage limbs. When snow covers our tulips, we know we’re home.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Let It Be A Dance

Migratory sand hill cranes breed in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. Each winter they fly south to their favorite places in Florida, Texas, Utah, Mexico, and California. Each spring, they go north again. En route, more than three-fourths of all sand hill cranes (some 500,000) stop over in a single 75-mile stretch along Nebraska's Platte River.

I was privileged to see their spring gathering. Driving out of Kearney, Nebraska, my friends and I saw a small flock in a field. Something spooked them and they arose in unison and flew beyond our sight. Was that it? Had we missed them? Checking in at the Audubon Center, we learned that many cranes had been delayed by Texas blizzards.

Still, that evening we saw hundreds and hundreds of them glide in for their night’s rest on Platte River sandbars (see previous post). It was spectacularly beautiful.

Well before dawn the next morning, we arrived at a pedestrian bridge over the Platte River. Standing in the dark, we welcomed the first hints of sunrise. As soon as there were slivers of light, the birds began ‘talking.’ As the sun began to rise, we could discern movement on the river. Here and there a bird rose out of the darkness. Then, as dawn broke over the horizon, waves of cranes soared up overhead, singing to the new day.
First waves were followed by second, third, fourth waves – thousands upon thousands of magnificent birds – an exultation.

None of my pictures came out but the images of that dawn glory are indelible.

We got back in the car and wandered back roads, driving east as the Audubon staff had recommended. And there they were. In field after field, feeding, ‘talking’, and dancing.

Crane dancing involves wing flapping, bowing, and jumping. It can be part of a mating ritual … or not. And some pairs may throw their heads back and unleash a passionate duet—‘an extended litany of coordinated song’.
We had only glimpses of events older than our species, a fraction of splendor that remains glistening in my memory.