“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche
I’m not certain how many times I’ve driven the I-80 route between Colorado and Iowa. Best guess is 40. Maybe, 50. But I do know I’ve never seen the sandhill cranes until yesterday.
There, in down-to-the-dirt, stubble-strewn cornfields and meadows on the leading edge of green, there were birds. Big birds. Dancing. And on the first day of Spring 2011, I was a witness to a ritual that precedes me by aeons.
From what I’m reading, about 500,000 of these feathered guys and gals pass thru the Nebraska Platte River valley annually, heading back north from points as far south as Mexico when the weather begins to warm. This fall, when temperatures start dropping, they’ll use the round-trip part of their ticket, passing back through the Great American Flyway. The route is etched deep in their DNA, naturalists tell us. Where the Platte is only “a youthful 10,000 years of age,” there are fossil records in the area that say the Sandhills were here more than nine million years ago.
Never one to miss out on a metaphor 😉 , I realized yesterday how often these winged beings and I have crossed paths over the years, their making a North/South journey to satisfy an instinctive urge while I fly or drive West/East for similar reasons. What they get from the journey besides that is beyond my knowing. But I am quite clear on what I receive from the 1500-mile round trip. I get to touch and touch base with my first family. And then, on the way home, I get to recalibrate for the seasons ahead. How have they changed? How am I different? What does that tell me? Where do I need to go next? The fields of Nebraska provide a perfect backdrop for pondering change, whether seen from the interstate or the skies. I’m grateful for the space and time.
For as Nietzsche knew, we cannot “fly into flying.”
Postscript: For more Sandhill footage, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLtMlOcvXMg