Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers 12/06/2010

Today I will be playing with your emotions. I don’t mean to but sometimes it just happens that way. It was a week full of extremes…ups and downs…a roller coaster ride.

This past Friday at the Valley Forward Annual Luncheon Joel Sartore, a National Geographic journalist put us on notice. His topic was endangered species and his stunning photography made even a Delhi Sands Flower-Loving Fly charismatic. The message was basically, “How many species do we have to lose before we humans as a species begin to get uncomfortable? When do we figure out that every species has a reason for being—every one of them?” He was charismatic and also reasonable. He left us with reason to hope—only if we hear a call to action and begin to act responsibly. His new book, Rare, Portraits of America’s Endangered Species, might make a great holiday gift.

Saturday and Sunday saw Liberty Wildlife’s staff and volunteers at the Verde Canyon Railroad helping them celebrate 20 years of sharing one of Arizona’s beautiful places with the rest of the world. Education volunteers and wildlife ambassadors greeted the riders of the train with our message of respect and awe for our native birds. At all times there were 5-6 people deep vying for an opportunity to be up front and eye to eye with eagles, owls, falcons, and hawks that might be seen in the wild in the canyon. On Sunday several of us rode the train….three purposes in mind—to celebrate the anniversary, to release two rehabilitated red tailed hawks, and to introduce Sonora to the crowd.

The celebration was delightful….too many stories to share at this point. The release was breath-taking. Owner of the Railroad, Dave, and his daughter were selected to let the red tails go. It was one of those very high moments. The train stopped at a spot where both ends of the train curved gently on the track allowing each rider filled open air car to see the middle car where the release was staged. All of the onlookers and well wishers counted to three, sent a silent wish on the strong wings of the hawks, and with a burst of eager energy—exhilarating freedom. The beauty of the canyon was enhanced by our addition and from where I was, I couldn’t see a dry eye.

And then, the murmur rose as we tramped back through the cars to our seats in the very front of the train…”Sonora is coming. Sonora will be here in a few minutes. Are we really going to be seeing a bald eagle?” Enter Jan, Joe and Sonora….what a rock star! She rides the train in the same way that she’d take to the air if she could. What hams, Joe and Sonora! Much the crowd pleasers…..

But from that high note, the rollercoaster takes a dive. We say goodbye to Mike Doran…a friend and long time volunteer at Liberty Wildlife—a consummate lover of birds. As an incredibly responsible medical services volunteer, his big, gnarled hands could oh so tenderly wrap the tinniest bird’s wing, infusing the bandage with his encouragements for healing which many absorbed and many were healed. He has finally shed his own pain and suffering like old molted feathers, no longer of any use, and with a new buoyancy, we hope, he is now keeping company with the birds he so cherished. So long, Mike. You will be missed by all of us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh Mike, I remember you, be free now gentle man. Heaven has another angel.