Cranes, Elk & Recycle Bins

10,000 years of tradition, plus a good idea from the San Luis Valley

Today things changed.

This morning I was hauling out some old wall board to the dumpster when I looked up. In the sky were six or seven sandhill cranes, the first of the season. Steve and I have been looking forward to their arrival ever since learning that our valley is a popular stopover along their migration.

We’ve seen cranes before. But today felt different. It felt emotional and monumental that this annual feat of nature was starting. It felt joyous to see these birds doing what they have done for ten thousand years or more.

Today marked a couple of other milestones. It was the first day I only needed to wear three layers to stay warm. We finished gutting the walls of the house. And yesterday marks one month since we bought this abandonment, and got to work on bringing it back to life.

In that month, we have started getting to know this vast valley as well. The San Luis Valley in Colorado is the largest high-elevation valley in the world, about the size of Massachusetts.

It’s a desert. So dry that when the snow melts, often there’s no mud. The parched air steals the moisture before the soil can get a drink.

It’s cold. So cold that when we put snow on the campfire last night, it didn’t all melt.

It’s known for UFO sightings and cattle mutilations, though this sign (below) is the closest to that we’ve encountered.

Yesterday we played hookey and toook a drive to Taos, about 100 miles away, to explore and enjoy a proper New Mexican meal of blue corn enchiladas, pintos, and green chiles. On our way back, we came across a wintering elk herd and a recycling bin I particularly liked. It’s cool when a community makes art and fun out of a good deed. Makes me want to think of ways to get creative like this in more towns.

Well, this post wasn’t so much of an informative one. Rather, I just wanted to share a little nature happiness today.

It ended up that the cranes circled overhead several times. That’s considered auspicious behavior. I’m not sure where they went after that, but I imagine there will be increasing sightings over the next couple of months. Before long, I hope to hear their chatter in the fields as part of our daily routine.

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