After the wetlands disappeared, many feared the cranes were gone, too. Extinct, many believed. The horror of this. What are we without our cranes? They are our loyalty, our longevity. And when they dance! A wonder to behold.
Farmers on the island began to sprinkle corn. Schoolchildren would perform this ritual every morning. Superstition, an outsider might say, this feeding of the disappeared.
But then the birds began to return. Encouraged by this glimmer of hope, more took up feedings. Ah, says an old woman now, I can’t go anywhere because of these birds. I worry about them if they don’t show up, but of course we want them to fly off, be wild again, whatever that means.
Some dig wells to create ponds for the cranes. An old man, bringing smelt to one of these ponds, spots a crane couple. He waves his arms and one of the cranes waves back, as if to dance with him.
Inspired by, and using borrowed phrases from this wonderful article by Motoko Rich and Hikari Hida in today’s New York Times.