It's Super Bowl Sunday, and I have no intention of watching the game. We've had a break in the weather and it's pleasant enough to go outside in two layers of clothing and/or one layer of very brown fur, if you're a Mocha dog.
I sat on a bench next to the lake and listened to birdsong and the sound of water rushing over the spillway with my eyes closed. Eyes open, I know each bird by name. Eyes closed, their identity is lost. The lake cast an upside-down reflection of the sky and surrounding trees, it's surface washed clean by wind and storms from previous days.
Partway through the afternoon, we jumped in the car and off we went on an old-fashioned Sunday drive in the country. Initially, I was looking for a road that ran parallel to the east shore of the Cumberland River. I often spy amazing homes perched atop those eastern bluffs and wanted to get a closer look. The Universe had a different idea as to my destination because every road I turned down was a dead end.
Catching the hint, I changed direction and used my instincts to locate a new dog-friendly park (Bell's Bend Park) and poof, it materialized after only a few turns. It covers hundreds of acres that were originally slotted to become a landfill for Nashville. When Mayor Purcell took office, he immediately redirected its usage for the Parks and Recreation Department...what a guy! I have a feeling it's going to be my new favorite destination. Its flat, low-lying delta sloping to the Cumberland is a little reminder of home!
On the drive back, I noticed an interesting detour off the not-so-beaten path that led to an old ferry crossing. We took the bait and were not disappointed by the miles of barns, livestock, silos and generations-old family farms. Driving slowly, a long metal fence caught the attention with its plethora of "Private Property, No Trespassing" signs flapping in the breeze. Past those signs, I spied movement maybe 100 yards away...two creatures, very large and very white grazing on short turf grass. At first I thought they were some sort of exotic livestock, since I'd just passed a farm with llamas, pigmy goats and donkeys.
All at once, I realized what I was seeing...a pair of whooping cranes! A rare and nearly exstinct bird that one would never expect to see in Tennessee is one I saw often growing up in South Texas. Our Texas Gulf Coast is the over-wintering home of hundreds of whooping cranes. Luckily, I had my camera and hoped for the best picture possible. My apologies for the poor quality, but they were very far away and I had no intention of entering their habitat to get closer.
Unbeknownst to me, an article had been written in early January about the appearance of these rare cranes. Here's a link to the story and a better picture: