Wednesday, December 28, 2011

~ Sand Mines & Cleaning Operations Have a Negative Effect ~

"Perhaps Someday"

The leaves rustle quietly as the gentle breeze blows and the robin sings it’s song, hidden somewhere in the bright green boughs. The deer forage in the field attached to the farm that is for sale. So many times I have admire that farm, with it’s many acres, roomy barn, and two houses... Perhaps someday I could buy it.

The elusive Pileated calls from somewhere in the woods beyond the field, and I wish that I could go exploring in the dense, mysterious wilderness that is hidden from my view. People drive up to the farm and begin looking around. I hope they dislike it... Perhaps someday I could buy it.

Not long afterwards I hear the news; a sand cleaning operation has bought the farm. My somewhat foolish castle in the air vanishes, and I forget about the farm for a while. Then I see what a sand cleaning operation is and how it can ruin an entire township. The houses are now offices, the woods and fields abandoned and un-cared for, and mountains of different-colored sand stand out everywhere. Towers stand taller than trees with powerful lights mounted on top, dump trucks a semis constantly roar in and out of the gates, and fine particles of sand fill the air, choking surrounding vegetation. Perhaps someday the operation will move on.

The constant roaring of the trucks night and day, the clanging of the doors as the sand is dumped, and the incessant beeping as the trucks back around is deafening. The roads are never smooth now, as the truck drivers slam on their brakes at the last possible moment, tearing up the blacktop on both sides of the road. Our modest country road is now cluttered with weight and speed limit signs, and the ice collects in the ruts, making it fatal to drive at anything more than a snail pace. Perhaps someday they will realize what they are doing.

By now the people of the township have become angry; limited ability to get sleep will do that. They ask, and then beg, for the company to cease operating during the night; yet they are ignored. After a while they are completely fed up, and meet with others to discuss the problem. The operation agrees to some suggestions, but do not bother being very faithful about it. The trucks still run at night and the lights still shine, marring the beautiful country sky and brightness of the stars. Perhaps someday they will listen.

A car swerves off, almost tipping into the ditch, as the dump truck roars past in the very middle of the road. It is not a rare sight, as the drivers know how big they are and how small the mini van is. The sheriff is called, and the driver goes to the operation’s office and complains; yet nothing changes. I highly doubt they will ever listen.

stand on the edge of the road in November of 2010, camera in hand, and gaze at the beautiful sight before me. A flock of nine Whooping Cranes wander about the field searching for those little delicacies that birds find so appealing to them. A dump truck roars past above the speed limit and I walk down to stand in the ditch, out of the way of the vehicles I have come to fear. I notice that the Whooping Cranes also shy away from the road every time a truck passes by. After a short while, and many photographs, I inconspicuously retire to my vehicle and drive on, leaving the cranes for another day. I wonder how long they will stay...

They end up staying for almost a week, and during that time I observe and photograph them. Each day I see them shy away and nervously “dance” every time a truck passes by, though I don’t think about it too much at the time. As an amateur ornithologist, I am excited to find out that this field is an annual stopping place for the Whooping Cranes during the migrations. Perhaps someday they will return during the migration back North.

Spring finally comes, and I watch desperately for the cranes to return. Not only the Whooping Cranes, but the smaller Sandhill Cranes as well. I am disappointed that none come, but I just assume that they have a slightly different path coming back North. Perhaps someday they will return on their way South again.

The autumn months of 2011 arrive and my camera is ready to grab at a moment’s notice. Family members help me watch for the cranes to return. While doing chores around our small farm, I hear the distinct sound of a Whooping Crane and, looking up, I see one flying with a small flock of Sandhill Cranes. A few days later, one lone Whooping Crane flies over the sand mine itself. None stay around our area for very long now, as the noise and activity are just too much for them. All autumn and into early winter I watch, and only two Whooping Cranes stop over in the general area, but they stay only a couple of days and are never close enough to the road for photographs. Perhaps someday things will quiet down and they will want to return.

For now I can only hope that my efforts will bring more people to the realization that the sand mines will not only effect endangered birds, but could also be effecting the habits of other animal species in the area. More research must be done, the right people informed, and the sand mines confined to areas that are not populated by humans who need rest, and animals that will be negatively effected.

Perhaps someday we can make a difference.

~ Mara

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