A walk with cranes and autumn blooms

The mist had settled over the creek bed that runs in front of my parents’ house when Mom and I began our morning walk at 6:30 a.m.

The sun was already bright, but the temperature felt a bit like autumn.

As we walked along, I heard a strange squawk that startled me. It was the call of a sandhill crane, described in Dad’s bird book as a “low, loud musical rattle.”

Though Dad would be quick to point out these large birds are not pre-historic, their call sounded a lot like the Hollywood raptor dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park.”

As we continued to walk along, we spotted three crains in a field. One kept up his “rattling,” perhaps as a warning to the other two that two slow-moving humans were nearby. As we approached, they spread their enormous gray wings and flew off, their breakfast rudely interrupted.

I’m sure Mom and Dad have pointed out the cranes in the marshy meadow in front  of their home before, but I don’t remember it. The cranes’ territory extends across the West and the Great Plains from Canada to Mexico, stopping just at the edge of Illinois. However, when I jog around my little village in northern Illinois, I’m more apt to see a poorly ponded residential yard than a slough full of hungry birds.

Minnesota, after all, is the home of the unique sounding loon. Dad boasts of having an endangered red-headed woodpecker visit his bird feeder. With Dad dumping two pounds of bird seed into it every day, this feeder is like the Old Country Buffet of Birdland. Birds of all sorts flock to it.

Also as we walked along in the cool morning, Mom pointed out the blooming asters and goldenrod.

“A sure sign of fall,” she said, on the 17th of August.

A sure sign that I was in northern Minnesota, too, if autumn is evident in mid-August. A lovely and picturesque experience once in a while, but back to Illinois I go.

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