Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The crane's elegy

As I was looking over the blogs I follow, I saw some bad news on Vickie Henderson's site: despite heavy opposition, Tennessee just passed legislation to allow hunting of sandhill cranes. This is just so upsetting. I have no words to express my sorrow and disgust. (My full rant on the topic, in case you're disappointed at my brevity, can be found here.)

For now, I will express my feelings with a quote from someone far more talented than I:

This much, though, can be said: our appreciation of the crane grows with the slow unraveling of earthly history. His tribe, we now know, stems out of the remote Eocene. The other members of the fauna in which he originated are long since entombed within the hills. When we hear his call we hear no mere bird. We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution. He is the symbol of our untamable past, of that incredible sweep of millennia which underlies and conditions the daily affairs of birds and men. 
And so they live and have their being--these cranes--not in the constricted present, but in the wider reaches of evolutionary time. Their annual return is the ticking of the geologic clock. Upon the place of their return they confer a peculiar distinction. Amid the endless mediocrity of the commonplace, a crane marsh holds a paleontological patent of nobility, won in the march of aeons, and revocable only by shotgun. The sadness discernible in some marshes arises, perhaps, from their once having harbored cranes. Now they stand humbled, adrift in history. -- Aldo Leopold, from A Sand County Almanac


  1. I know. I've been following this on Vickie Henderson's blog site, and it breaks my heart that Tennessee has passed this legislation! I'm rereading "A Sand County Almanac", and I'm impressed that Aldo Leopold also felt this sadness, and yet he kept right on, trying to save all that he could. What a beautiful writer he was. MOM

    1. Personally I recommend that book to EVERYONE! Even if someone doesn't care (or doesn't think they care) about the wider world of nature, it's an invitation to fall in love with your own backyard.