It’s raining on this, the last morning of writer’s school—my last chance to spot a moose. I choose the Chester Creek trail even though it doesn’t offer the best chance of encountering big animals. I just hope to watch the sandhill cranes.
It’s windy. Last night a gust knocked over a portal toilet that is used by residents of a makeshift camp. Near downtown I pass a pile of black trash bags, each stuffed full of the possessions of homeless people. The only mammals I spot on the ride to Westchester Lagoon wear spandex and high tech rain gear.
At the lagoon’s western edge the resident Canada geese wait out the wind. Comfortable in such a large group, each goose seems reluctant to yield enough space on the bike path for a jogger and I to pass. Surviving the geese traffic jam, I pedal to the mouth of a small slough. The ratcheting cry of two cranes reaches me as I put on the brakes. Another pair of sandhills flies low over the singing birds.
The feeding pair stretch out their long necks when another crane call sounds. Soon five cranes gather to feed at the edge of salt water even as a bald eagle flies over at hunting height. One crane seems to stand guard as the others feed in pairs. There is no morning class scheduled to force my departure but I only stay ten minutes. The cranes might stay nearby all morning or explode into flight in seconds. But I feel sated, like I might after a rich dinner followed by cake.