Posted by: atowhee | October 14, 2019



scr-relics (2)How to describe age.  In this photo we move visually across ages, past eons, and perhaps see a possible future if our species doesn’t exterminate life as we’ve known it.  The visible grass is not too old, most leaves may have begun last fall.  Yet, beneath thrive the roots, the crucial part of the plant we rarely see.  Those roots may have been place for a decade or more.  The cattywompus oak in the center could be a couple hundred years old, the trunk that is.  If a previous trunk were chopped down by white invaders around 1840, the persevering roots could be centuries old. The abandoned rusting hulk of a truck is less than a century old and may not last another hundred years.  The house tucked beyond the hill may be the newest thing in view.  The cranes–well, no individual bird is likely to be over forty years old, but their species is ancient.  The crane family is the oldest known surviving bird family on earth, over fifty million years old say fossils.  Our ancestors at that time were clinging to small branches in trees that protected them from more capable predators.



The sounds of crane bugling was sporadic but spread across every hour we were on Sauvie.  Family groups in flight.  Unseen fielding cranes beyond the line of trees or view-blocking bushes, somewhere far off, sometimes close but hidden by berry thickets.  It is an ancient sound dependent on their long, convoluted trachea and the physics of vibration and reverberation.  A sound that has echoed across marsh and forest, prairie and oceans for millions of years.  Imagine some of these Lesser Sandhill Cranes  have already flown here from northern Siberia.  Soon most will be settled for winter in California’s Central Valley.


  1. […] By winter the crane numbers on Sauvie will be modest. Most of the ones we saw will have moved further south. For me there’s no doubt that I go to Sauvie for the cranes.  All the rest of the beauty and the birds, the clouds and no crowds—that is a bonus beneficence of nature. For a surfeit of crane images, dancing and more, click on this link…pure cranestuff. […]

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