One Is the Lonliest Number.

As Andrew and I hiked the New Hope-Iola Ski Hill Segment of the Ice Age Trail last week, we came across a surprise.  We had just crossed the road and had entered a field, walking along the the treeline.  Out of the forest, directly in front of us, we saw a figure emerge from the shadows.  It was a sandhill crane. 

One. Lonely. Bird.

Hauntingly, it kept calling out and walking toward us at a 45 degree angle.  It almost seemed to think that we were sandhill cranes.   My heart broke as it flew off, alone.  

The Scaup

The Shrike

It snowed the next day, but now it's warming up again, and, at Wildwood Park, I saw a lesser scaup all by itself in the midst of a crowd of Mallards.  I also saw a Nothern Shrike high up in a tree.  Not only were these the sole representatives of their species anywhere around, but I also cannot recall ever seeing such creatures before. It's also remarkable that the crane comes in the Spring to stay until next Winter, but the shrike will soon head north, and the scaup is already on its journey north.  Each of them is at a different point in their journey.  I wonder how many people in my life have gone unnoticed, who needed someone to be with them even just for a while.  I wonder how hard their journeys have been, and how I might share my journey with them too.

The Eagle Has Landed!

On an unseasonably warm Friday in February, Andrew and I made arrangements to stay at The Eagle's Roost Resort in Cassville, WI. Sure enough, when we got there, we found there was indeed an eagle's nest across the river. Saturday morning found us taking the short drive to Nelson Dewey State Park. At the first light of day, we were perched high on the bluff, just under the crest of the hill, and on the other side, hid from our view, was a bald eagle. Without a noise, he took to flight, no further than a couple dozen feet away. Sometimes, as Sean O'Connell says in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," it's all about being "in the moment." I guess I was too surprised, to be honest, and too amazed to take a picture. Instead, I turned to Andrew and whispered (for some reason), "Did you see that?"  He did.  

Watching the sun rise at Nelson Dewey State Park

Back at the Eagle's Roost, we ventured out to the dock and watched the nest for a while. There was another pair of bald eagles close by. Too close. Suddenly, an eagle emerged from the woven branches of the nest, flew over, and chased the other eagles away. Naturally, he flew back to the nest, which was still guarded by his mate to protect the eggs, and landed. Now these nests are immense. Four to five feet in diameter and two to four feet deep. It was truly miraculous to see such a large bird perform this maneuver. We witnessed a moment of power and grace, and in that moment we could see how truly important that nest was to these majestic birds.  They had bonded with each other in the very process of building it in the first place.  In that moment, we were reminded of the importance of our home and our family, too.

The Landing.

These are the experiences that we look forward to, but can never plan. Indeed, we were told that we missed  one of the eagles catch its breakfast in the river and swim to shore.   Maybe we'll get to see that someday, or maybe something new and unexpected is around the corner. Maybe we'll learn something that we never new before. This is why we keep coming back for more, and this is why we feel it's so important to share some of what we've learned in the process!

On a mission!