“We did not ask for this room or this music; we were invited in. Therefore, because the dark surrounds us, let us turn our faces toward the light. Let us endure hardship to be grateful for plenty…. We did not ask for this room or this music. But because we are here, let us dance.”
—Stephen King and Bridget Carpenter
Dancing with the Cranes
Fastwrite, March 28: Heart of the Matter writing circle
Prompt: What keeps you from dancing every day and, if you want to, how might you change that?
I’m reminded of the Nebraska sandhill cranes that a friend has been writing about.
The cranes dance, and no one knows why, she said.
She’s filmed them when they arrive in Nebraska as part of their migration, the river flats and fields suiting them perfectly as they make their way north to Canada.
I saw two sandhills cranes once, up close; heard their strange call, saw them dancing, awkwardly, together. It was in Tampa, on the banks of the Hillsborough River, which ran outside my front door in those days.
Funny, now, to think that I was up close to another river there, but undervalued it. And I was so close to the birds, not knowing how obsessed I would later become with them.
I did recognize, at the time I saw those cranes, that this was a special moment—a gift I did not fully understand. It woke up something in me; something stirred, a seed was planted.
I loved loved loved the rivers in Tampa, the deep woods nearby, the profoundly beautiful swamp available to me right from our front yard. It was riddled with pop-eyed alligators with only noses and eyeballs above the water or sunning themselves on the banks, amidst blue herons and white egrets, hiding in plain sight under huge overhanging branches and between cypress tree roots. On higher ground, my favorite sight was the fields of palmettos under tall loblolly pines swaying across the sky just like Lois Lenski drew them in Strawbettery Girl.
I miss that time, of dancing cranes, hanging moss, and dark, still waters. Such richness I knew to love but did not know how.
So maybe the cranes are calling me now, asking me to go dance with them—to follow my passions, to stay close to the river, and yet, find safe ground for myself.
In the time of the coronavirus.
Reflection: The only thing that keeps me from dancing is remembering how important it is to do so.