Slice of Life March Challenge/Poetry Friday: March 21st., 2014 – In celebration of the first day of Spring

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The March Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers .  

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Poetry Friday is hosted by Julie at The Drift Record


Spring in  the Platte River valley in south-central Nebraska is the time when 90 percent of the world’s sandhill cranes pause on their migratory routes.  Photographs and videos of this annual event are absolutely stunning.  I’ve always associated Spring with the time my garden begins to slowly awaken, a time of flowers and beginning green. But, having watched a story about the sandhill cranes on last night’s newscast, I will add that to my catalogue of Spring heraldings…

….along with this poem…


by Mary Oliver

a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her—
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.


17 thoughts on “Slice of Life March Challenge/Poetry Friday: March 21st., 2014 – In celebration of the first day of Spring

  1. I love sandhill cranes, but didn’t know anything about their migration. When I lived in Florida, I could see them around my neighborhood with their adorable chicks at this time of year. What a lovely spring post with the cranes and the poem! Favorite part:
    it is also this dazzling darkness
    down the mountain,
    breathing and tasting

    I just want to keep repeating “this dazzling darkness.”

  2. I drew these two offerings in deeply just like the scent of spring. They were refreshing. I had to no prior knowledge of the migration of the sandhill cranes. How stunning! As was this poem. Thank you for sharing them, Tara.

  3. “staring down the mountain”-Mary Oliver always gets it right, doesn’t she? So, I saw the newscast too, but need to tell you I’ve been there with students, & also in SE CO when they fly back south. We’ve risen before dawn to see them rise, & did a bird count one of the days. It is an awesome experience, Tara. I almost wrote about it today after I saw the news. Thanks for sharing it, I can watch again!

  4. I just don’t want to meet that bear coming down the mountain. So much awakens in the spring. We forget how busy nature is when it is not winter.

  5. Those sandhill cranes are an amazing sight! I never associated them with Spring before, but now I will. Love Oliver’s poem too, with my special affinity for bears. 🙂

  6. What an amazing video. I was struck by how loud the cranes are as much as by the number of them. And Oliver’s poem is the perfect accompaniment. Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!

  7. Oh Tara, thank you for sharing some Mary Oliver love today. Whenever I feel hurried, I only have to read her words to center me. This is beautiful. Breath of fresh air.

  8. Tara,
    “There is only one question:
    how to love this world.”

    What a delightful poem! Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. I always find so many poems she has written to share with my students. This is the perfect one to illustrate how we are just at the door of spring. Thanks for sharing your video. Imagine everyone documented the journey of birds as they travel from one place to another. We don’t get to see sand cranes so it was a true pleasure.


  9. I’ve seen black bears, but sandhill cranes (and moose) are still on my wildlife bucket list. I’d love to see the hawk migration in Georgia as well. So much beauty in this world. Including the poetry of Mary Oliver!

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