Like many a descendant of farming families it is my habit to crack an eye open long before dawn to check the weather — online, in my case — before getting out of bed, and either make plans to arise soon or sleep another several hours, depending on the results.
This morning my weather apps warned of snow and rain arriving by afternoon, then piling up through the night and the following day. With the possibility of more white stuff for the next four days.
Argh! Can I turn into a bear for a while, and hibernate?
Animals were at it this morning, for whatever reasons.
My grudging wheelchair roll down the road for emergency groceries followed a hasty peanut butter and jelly whole wheat tortilla with strong black tea and a banana. Happily I was not sufficiently engrossed with indulging my dislike of snow that I would have to shovel to miss the takeoff, from the middle school athletic field across the street, of eight large, very large, birds with long, long necks. Sandhill cranes, and whatever were they doing in a short grass area like that? In the middle of a little city, to boot?
In six years here not once had I seen a crane except high overhead. Really high. At my last place they hung out all winter in a huge alfalfa field across the narrow street from my place. Seeing them in this unsuitable habitat years later felt like a visitation, to me.
In kicked my mystical being with a question. “Do cranes need reasons you can understand to do what they do?” Which immediately closed doors on my left brained habits, sneaking in an unscientific conclusion: “They are here, close enough over my head to show me all of their larger feathers in detail in order to inform me that things are not as bad as they might seem.”
Forward barged the inner optimist, “In fact these Sandhills landed across the street from your house this bleary, dreary morning in order to let you know how good things are going to get. Soon.”
Thus encouraged I sat in the middle of my street to observe the cranes fly over the rail yard toward the east mountains, where suitable fields exist. The whole thing took less than a minute, not long enough for me to set down my shopping bags, take off my gloves, fish out the iPhone and snap a decent photo.
This is the same person who has long regarded the sight of a Great Blue Heron flying along as good luck.
Next up for my attention roiled up angry yowls from a pair of fighting tomcats on a side street. To my amusement the screeches caused Peewee and Conan, the friendly black and tan mixed breed and glossy black rottweiler next door, to pop up and down along their fence, catching glimpses of the combatants. Jesus, their person, has put handmade wrought iron railings atop the low concrete wall around his family home to keep the two former Houdinis at home.
I hadn’t seen cats fighting here in some years.
My grocery mission proceeded without much else of note till I had left the store and was passing a popular breakfast and lunch café. Before the front door stood a big black dog, nosing a crumpled burrito wrapper. The moment she spotted me she trotted over to take up a position beside my chair for the next few blocks. Whenever I turned my head to get a better look at this big puppy — for she was very young — I would meet a gaze that seemed to hold detachment and something that I had trouble interpreting. Big puppy craziness? Surprise? Hurt? Had she been thrown out? In the middle of town wasn’t it more likely that she had slipped her collar? For there was the clear imprint of a collar in her neck fur. Perhaps she had been left home alone for the holidays? Shiny fur, no more thin than lots of puppies that size. Rangy more than thin.
While I mused over what to do should my large companion choose to accompany me all the way home she abruptly veered off down a side street as though she knew where she was going. Which I very much hoped that she did.
The encounter left me, for the rest if the way home, saying silent prayers for abandoned animals roaming streets in bad weather. For the ones whose people leave them out full time despite the weather, with little or no medical care and just enough food to keep them alive. Furry doorbells.
Elf and Opus might not, despite my mixed state of mind, have been quite as thoroughly overjoyed to see me back again had I been accompanied by a temperament-untested dog three times their size.
They were delighted to join me soon afterwards in the back yard, where we basked for a few minutes in the warmish temperatures, and I rejoiced to see icicles and snow from last week’s storm dripping fast from the north slopes of the roof. That snow and ice is long gone from sunny areas.
The northside melting was still going strong shortly before the sun went down around 5 p.m.
Tomorrow will tell us how things actually turn out between my inner optimist and the weather forecast!
To blessed animals the utmost kindness must be shown. ~Baha’i