A Sandhill Crane and a Gravel Pit

It’s been weeks since I saw it. I was biking in my neighborhood. It was raining a bit. I was pulling my two daughters in our brand new Burley bike trailer.

My husband and I had been researching for weeks. I had settled on a Thule, we have the Thule child bike seat after all…I tend to want to keep everything the same. It’s one way I keep “order” I suppose. We went to a bike shop in Soldotna, and they only had Burley. It didn’t take much convincing….my husband persuaded me….we buy it right here, right now. I couldn’t be happier with our purchase.

Taking the girls on a ride….them sitting side by side in that trailer together…snuggling….holding hands….falling asleep on each other…… If you know me, you KNOW I have a fair share of love for biking. Being able to share it with my children… to have them laughing, and sometimes crying (THE ENTIRE WAY MARLENA) and kicking, but mostly enjoying an activity I absolutely love, brings me one of the greatest feelings of luck and gratitude. I just could never have imagined my life could be so fucking wonderful.

But here I was. Biking in the rain, pulling my daughters to sleep along the gorgeous country gravel road. Every pothole the city dwelling transplants curse lovingly rock and lull my girls into their afternoon nap. The sound of my labored breathing is mixed with the wind rushing through the trees and I imagine my youngest is being reminded of sounds from the womb that my ALMOST 3 year old has long forgotten but may still be hidden in her subconscious somewhere.

And through the air pierced and echoed the call of the Sandhill Crane. There it sat, alone, perched on the top of the mound of dirt in the gravel pit. Calling. Looking. Waiting. Searching. I know this crane. It has a mate. Where is it? How come it isn’t coming? It had a mate. This crane has been here. Day after day. Calling. Looking. Waiting. Searching. I am hit with a sudden sadness. I bet, unfortunately, its mate was shot and killed. Maybe for food. Maybe for sport. But it is now alone. How can I hear it crying? How can I know the sound of pain in the crane’s call? Some people might say I am anthropomorphizing and it’s all based off of survival rather than emotion. Whatever the case, I cannot help but to feel a wave of deep, deep sorrow, despite how absolutely fucking wonderful my life is right now.

How can I just go on being happy, bopping around in my own perfect fucking world while my neighbors suffer tremendously? What is this duality? And how is it possible that I am experiencing both of these intensely different feelings at once?

The theme of this polarity is prevalent in my daily life since then. Maybe it has always been there, but I feel suddenly more aware, the crane bringing this medicine to me.

Inspired by the podcast my husband was recently on, I have been listening to another podcast, but by the same host called Change Agents. How can there be SO much violence, so much pain, so much suffering in this world while I find my own world so blissful? How do we strike a balance between these worlds? HOW do we get involved with not just things happening in other countries (but yes that also) but in our own backyards? In our own yards?

As I write this, I pause as I hold my SCREAMING 9 month old as I am transitioning her to sleep on her own rather than with me. Her suffering, her screams, her inability to be comforted by me in her overwhelm and upset enrages me. I feel my blood boiling, but in an instant, and with ear plugs courtesy of my husband, I am staring into the helpless tear-filled eyes of my baby daughter and suddenly, in a flash, I see the beauty in holding her during this moment. Realizing and telling her, “You are in your mother’s arms. You are safe” Thinking of trafficked and exploited children, thinking of mothers having to carry their new babies on their backs as they mine dangerous minerals, starvation, abuse, and death and loss of loved ones. All of this….and so much more… goes on daily.

And yet, the world is still beautiful. Life can be incredible when we realize the good moments. When we take the time to be grateful, truly grateful. Because at any moment, you can be struck with that deep aching sorrow.

How can we do more to help others?

Sandhill Cranes mate for life. If one dies….. do they find another? I like to think that if my husband died before I, I would never find another. I would want to find the beauty in my own sorrow and embrace that “life is suffering”.

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Published by secretgardenalaska

Best friends raising two daughters off-grid in a remote area of Alaska. We grow food, write stories, make jewelry, and live a sober life.

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