Thursday, June 18, 2015

What the Wild Crane Knows...

For three weeks or so this spring, lucky residents and visitors to the Tramway area of Lee County, North Carolina, had the opportunity to observe and commune with a pair of incredibly gregarious and engaging Sandhill cranes.
It's been almost exactly a month since they left our fair burg, but they've not been forgotten. 
In fact, for those of us fortunate enough to spend much time in their presence, something of their wild and beautiful essence remains with us, even in their absence.  

The circumstances of their parting remain something of a mystery. Despite published news reports of them being "crated" and carried away by wildlife experts, at least one such waterfowl rescue organization indicates on its website that the birds simply flew away of their own volition. 

And, as romantic as the notion of these magnificent animals having somehow chosen our community as the place they would breed and raise their young might be, 
our present stretch of sweltering hot weather proves what a bad idea that would have been for birds accustomed to breeding in much cooler climes to the north.

So we remember our wandering cranes for the time they spent with us, accepting the mystery of their origins and their ultimate fate, but grateful for the time they sojourned in this place we call home. 

Throughout written history, humans around the world have revered this graceful and elegant creature.

We understand, and we have joined their ranks.

My father, Jim Randolph, is a scholar and a poet and a teacher of the highest order. He inspires my love of the natural world, and motivates me to never stop getting to know it better. 

Some forty years ago, on a steamy summer night much like this one, I lay in bed and listened to the thunder rumbling in the distance. 
Fascinated, but just a little bit fearful as well; 
and then I heard another sound, quiet and close and comforting, with just a hint of melancholy...

My dad, singing. 

And these were the words he sang...

"My heart knows what the wild goose knows,
I must go where the wild goose goes.

Wild goose, brother goose, which is best?
A wandering fool, or a heart at rest?

Tonight I heard the wild goose cry, 
Winging north in the lonely sky.

Tried to sleep, but it weren't no use,
'Cause I'm a brother to the old wild goose."

And then the refrain...

"Oh, my heart knows what the wild goose knows,
and I must go where the wild goose goes.

Wild goose, brother goose, which is best?
A wandering fool, or a heart at rest?"

Sounding for all the world like the scratchy vinyl LP of the old cowboy crooner, 
Frankie Laine himself,

my dad's voice transported me far away from our little house in the Sandhills of North Carolina,
to a rustic frontier cabin, 
somewhere smack dab in the middle of the breeding grounds of our remarkable visitors from the north. 

A place wild and free, untainted by civilization, home to birds and fowl of every ilk;
a place that called to my dad and to me,

and calls to us still.

As I sit here tonight, accompanied by the soundtrack of distant thunder, 
I hear my dad's voice, and I see a pair of wild cranes, 
winging northward in the lonely sky.

Whatever their ultimate destination, I trust they've arrived by now,
and in my mind's eye there's a rustic little cabin overlooking their breeding grounds, 
and some lucky soul is smiling from the window 
as they observe the antics of our two errant travelers,
home at last. 

Oh my heart knows what the wild crane knows,

his gaze fixed upon mine...

And I must go where the wild crane goes.

Wild crane, brother crane,

which is best?

A wandering fool, or a heart at rest?

Only time will tell,
my friend.

But until then,


And thanks, Dad.

Thanks to Jay and Hunter Randolph for the use of their crane photos.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I always find your blog posts beautiful, whether from images or from prose. This post, though, struck such a chord that this old man found himself misty and moist-eyed. Thanks for what you create here, James.