Not For Your Sake and Not For Mine

On any Winter’s morning one can find several species gathered at the crane pond. A flock of roosting sandhill cranes; a smattering of snow geese depending on how deep the water is; a prowling pack of coyotes.

But there’s another flock, one comprised of glass-twisting camera-carrying humanoids, standing with focused attention, shifting from sole to sole in the pre-dawn cold. Some, like me, clutch smaller mirrorless systems with numbing fingers. Most stand sentry behind heavy tripods with long lenses balanced on top of them. Best get in place early enough to get a good spot because the wait for crane-sprint down the runway may be long a long one.

I’ve said and heard my compadres say more than once, “Please, fly! Go on now, do it! You can take of now.”

Most certainly it’s the frostbitten fingers talking more than the creative, awe-struck spirit of the people who gather to witness the unfolding spectacle of cranes coming to life with the first rays of morning.

I hope I never come to a place where I take these miraculous performances for granted. Heaven forbid I allow impatience to trick me into believing these creatures do anything on behalf of me or my camera.  



Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

– Mary Oliver

Photo Credits:Tandem Takeoff  by Susan J. Preston, Bosque del Apache, NM © 2019, all rights reserved
Technical: Fuji XT-3