Birds of a Feather

Every January I attend the Chamber Music America Conference in New York. This year the conference was scheduled on the same weekend as Rob’s birthday. I did not feel like leaving Rob all alone and lonely on his special day and invited him to join me in New York. Rob did not feel like going to New York in January and respectfully declined my kind invitation. Being the exemplary wife I am…I offered to go anywhere his heart desired for his birthday. After going back and forth between Las Vegas, Bonaire, Cozumel and other places he decided that he would like to go on a photographic trip to the Bosque National Wild Life Refuge to take pictures of sandhill cranes. Since this birthday trip was my idea I had to bite the bullet and enthusiastically agreed. We were supposed to leave on Tuesday, spend first 3 nights in the park and the rest of the trip in Santa Fe, gallerying.

The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, fondly known as “The Bosque,” is in New Mexico near the small town of San Antonio (what are the odds), New Mexico. Sandhill cranes, snow geese and many other migrating birds make the Bosque their winter home. Cranes normally arrive in November and depart as late as the end of February to Greys’ Lake, Idaho (their breeding grounds). As it stated on the Bosque’s website, “Seeing the sunset fly in and the dawn fly out is an experience you will never forget! If you are lucky you can also see what we call puffs of snow geese, thousands rising into the air. The sound of wings and the sound of geese talking is a fantastic, primordial experience, guaranteed to wow you out of your worries and wow you out of your own body, and guaranteed to lift your soul to join them.” I was really looking forward to an experience guaranteed to lift my soul!

We bought heavy-duty boots and other layered warm necessities for this adventure. I dug deep in my closet and found a skiing outfit left over from my short-lived and very eventful sports aspirations during my single years. I was ready to go! In anticipation of the trip Rob was diligently checking the weather conditions 10 times a day and informed me that our trip was in jeopardy because the roads were all covered in ice and there is no way we could drive trough the mountains on Tuesday. I really do not like to change plans at all (this goes against my personality, it drives me crazy) but there is no argument with Mother Nature. We still decided to go but delay the trip for two days. That meant that my gallerying part of the trip had to be left out because we needed to be back in San Antonio by the following weekend for Musical Bridges’ five-day series of concerts, “Café Columbia”.

We arrived at the park in the early afternoon and drove around for about an hour getting a feel for the space, like hunters assess their location for future action. Then we parked by a small lake in anticipation of the cranes arrival by the end of the day. It was cold; I had to put on my classic Russian babushka scarf to stay afloat. About 15 more people with professional equipment took their posts not too far from us. The sun started to descend and the sky put on a spectacular show of lilacs and pinks with strikes of antique gold. And suddenly, out of nowhere flocks of cranes started to come in! Beautiful birds; some large some small, some were in pairs and some singles, gracefully landing right in front of us, less than 10 feet away. What a spectacular scene this was! A bird’s ballet took central stage to the divine silky curtains painted by nature itself!

Of course I got cold feet (this time literally) and spend last 30 minutes warming up in our car. Rob was the last one to leave his post. He looked like a 12-year-old boy, as happy as he can be, coming home from scoring the winning goal in a hockey game with frozen hands and red nose. I do not think he missed one feather on those fluffy cranes! Seeing him then and there, it donned on me that we are very much alike. Just like two little kids we fully invest ourselves in different adventures, most normal people would find out of the ordinary to say the least. Both constantly strive to learn new things, explore the world and accomplish new heights. Both are in awe of creativity as a driving force behind everything that matters to us, everything good. Just like birds of the feather we do flock together…for 9 years this February, and many more to come.