Cissy’s Thoughts Along the Way

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Departure Trauma

My beloved cousin Debbie coined a phrase I’ve used more than once to describe the push-pull associated with uprooting and going somewhere. For me, departure trauma (not really traumatic but certainly disruptive) refers to the nagging pull to return to San Antonio, understanding that my time here at the coast is up for now. It is also knowing that I’ve had a good time here this trip, covered some important emotional ground, transcended work-related anxiety to a satisfactory resolution, enjoyed my friends. I don’t necessarily want to leave here, but I do want to go home. Plus, I can’t just throw the suitcase in the car and go…being the person I am, I also must clean the house, change the sheets and make sure that when I come back the house is fresh and ready for me. It’s a little bit of self-care I have to do.

I’ve been hearing that people are catching fish. As chilly as it’s been, I can’t imagine being on the water for hours and hours like I usually am when I go out. However, this fish-catching has got my attention, so my boat is at Ronnie’s Marine having its spring tune-up in anticipation of a trip in the near future. The water is a little cool right now, so I’ve heard the fish are being caught in shallow, warmer water.

Meanwhile, yesterday three friends and I traveled up to Aransas Wildlife Refuge to see what we could see. We embarked with Priority 1 being the sighting of whooping cranes (the ongoing debate: is it “whooping” or “hooping” cranes?). We loaded up with all the cameras, lenses and binoculars everyone had to aid our mature vision.

When we arrived at the refuge, the first matter of note was how dry it is; we in Texas need rain like crazy. Where there should’ve been water there was dry land. However, we also realized that the tide is way out right now and entire reefs in San Antonio Bay sat exposed, as did vast amounts of shoreline. Most likely, if the tide had been up, some of those dry spots in the refuge would’ve had water but still, it is very dry.

There was a tour group ahead of us, median age probably 72 (speaking of mature vision). We kept running into them and being the anti-social group we were, that became a little vexing. So, we altered our course and skipped ahead of them on our way to various stops that we hoped would offer rare sightings and photo opportunities. Nearly all the way through the refuge, we still hadn’t spied the coveted whooping cranes. As we neared a tall observation tower, we saw dozens of people up there, craning (pardon the expression) their old necks to see something. We waited for them to mosey down the ramp from up high, asking for reports. “We didn’t see anything” was the prevailing comment, delivered with a grumble. We adjusted our expectations accordingly and proceeded upward.

For a time we were the only ones there. With all of our optics, we scoured the shorelines, water and skies hoping to see SOMETHING. Finally, Heidi made a comment as to whether or not those two white birds standing in the water there in the distance might be whooping cranes. We all looked and looked; they were very far away. We simply could not see enough to know for sure. A couple joined us and the man said, “Nah, those are sand hill cranes”. We didn’t like that; we wanted to believe they were whoopers. So we kept looking. Shortly after, the sand hill cranes took wing and when we could see the markings, we knew they were whooping cranes! With that, the clicking of shutters commenced, along with the ooohs and ahhhs of those of us for whom this was a first sighting. It was a marvelous experience!

I am blessed to have been on a couple of fishing trips in past years that afforded me up close and personal views of whooping cranes. One cold day, fishing in St. Charles Bay, we thought we saw some whoopers on the nearby land. I abandoned my fishing rod in favor of the video camera, and got out and waded with the camera up to the shore. Sure enough, there was a group or gaggle or whatever of whooping cranes; I hit paydirt as I videotaped them going about and finally, flying away. I think I still have that tape somewhere; I should share it one of these days.

OK, part of the reason for this post was to delay the inevitable departure trauma. In the interest of discipline, I will close this and get ready to depart! More to come…

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