I’ve always been amazed at the attitudes of crane viewers. Each spring, it is as if everyone, following sight of these birds, becomes suddenly happy. People come from all over the world to central Nebraska to catch a glimpse of these birds along the Platte. Along the way, before and after looking at cranes, they talk with total strangers about cranes. Rare is it to find people at Rowe Sanctuary, on the bridge at Fort Kearny SRA, or anywhere between not talking with new friends.
I am no stranger to this phenomenon myself. Get me around a few people outdoors, and Chatty Kathy I become. And we talk about everything, including cranes, spring, cameras, the Platte, fishing, books, and anything else that kills the time between arrival and “Shh, I think I hear birds coming.” A few days ago, I had the good pleasure of having several of these conversations with people at Fort Kearny SRA. The cousins from California, the locals from Kearney, and the woman from Scotland whose voice I could listen to for hours, give or take the cranes.
I also met Beth Ridenour, who is a photographer from Kansas who was visiting the cranes that day from the bridge, the next morning from a viewing blind at Rowe Sanctuary, and the following morning at a private blind at Rowe. She questioned what the private blind would be like, and repeatedly fretted about the possibility of sleeping through the morning, failing to wake up at sunrise.
It has been a few days since I met my latest crane-viewing friend, but I hope this wasn’t the case. From what I’ve heard from the Forsbergs and Fowlers of the world, these mornings are fantastical, overachieving all of one’s preconceived notions. Maybe in a few days she’ll send me a photo or two from that morning, because that’s what crane friends do. They meet, they share, and then they meet again.
Until then, I’ll post my most memorable photo of Beth, hoping that her private crane viewing went a little different than this scene from the Fort Kearny SRA bridge.