Yesterday was Mother’s Day. Passing a local church, I saw a sign that read, “Mother is another word for love”. That is certainly very true, and there are so many more words for mother that I could never to do it justice. Most of them are along the lines of caring, loving, supportive, nurturing, healing, etc. I am a very lucky man, who has a great mother, so I have seen these demonstrated my entire life. I had the chance to see a different one in action yesterday.
I needed to finish a bit of lawn mowing out at the country house, so I jumped in the car and headed to ‘the hill’. As I pulled in the driveway and started towards the house, there was a pair of cranes and their two tiny chicks warming themselves on the asphalt. As the car neared, they began running away, but the chicks were simply running along the mower-width path that runs parallel to the drive. Eventually, they tired and decided they would simply lie down and hide in the grass.
As I pulled along side of the chicks, completely exposed in the grass, the adult male crane ran off into the tall grass in the pasture. OK, I believe it was the male based on coloring and the fact this wouldn’t be much of a Mother’s Day story if the female ran off like a chicken. The female crane, however, was a completely different story.
I stopped the car and rolled down the window to take a photo of the chicks. The adult female was clearly agitated, and was attempting to draw my attention away from her chicks. In my oversized (OK, ridiculously oversized, but I swear it gets 28mph on the highway) black sedan, I am not sure what registers in the pea brain of a crane, but it is probably something like ‘threat … big threat … bear … big 4,409 pound bear … I’ll be damned if it is going to eat my babies’.
With the male bird nowhere in sight … and I am not editorializing, I am just stating fact … that female crane stretched her wings out to make herself look as imposing as possible, and charged the car. This was not a head fake, little step or two forward, type of display. This was a full-speed, raging, squawking, wings flapping charge, ending close enough to spit on the hood of the car. There we were squared off, face to beak … well, not completely as there was an engine, hook and windshield separating us. It was impressive nonetheless. Feeling a bit guilty, I spoke out the window to the mom bird, using as calming a tone as I could, and I slowly moved the car forward to pass her babies and show her the threat was passing.
That scene really stuck with me as I rode the mower. Besides all the other things we know about mothers, we should also remember that mother is another word for ‘insanely protective and boundless bravery’. Faced with what registered as certain annihilation, that mother bird did not hesitate to place herself in the direct path of the danger. My hope is that after I finished mowing and left, that little crane family had a wonderful afternoon in the sun … while the father crane rustled up some dinner for the mom to show his appreciation. That is certainly what I went home and did.