by Dan T. Haase
"It seemed that all nature was rejoicing with me." ~ James Herriot
At the end of June, I traveled with the youth group to Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Michigan. I tagged along mainly for sentimental reasons: after 10 years of homeschooling, my youngest is being pushed out of the nest into the gust of high school; plus, I grew up adventuring across the dunes when I was his age and this day retreat seemed a fitting turn of the hour glass and way to watch the sands of time.
ripe blueberries - laughter around the lake
Midday, two boys came over with a young hurt bird. Placed in a turned-over frisbee with sand as a bed, they cautiously delivered the infirm creature for all to see. After a few minutes of inspection, it was determined that it should be left in a shaded part of the sand by some trees. "Then it might at least die in peace." I followed and watched as they set it down. Content with their care, they left the bird and went to climb the dunes. Curiosity caused me to stay, and as I watched the bird struggle in the sand, I found my curiosity turn toward compassion. Offering a small twig, I nudged the young Northern Rough-winged Swallow to perch. It sat there, inches from me, gently chirping, with momentary spasms of its wings. I observed. Moments of stillness followed and then a light breeze would ruffle the feathers, wings would extend and tighten. I took a few pictures. Mostly a light brown coloring with a white underbelly, it wore a splash of yellow below both eyes. I marveled at the beauty contained in such little weight.
the lapping lake
Lifting the young swallow into the backdrop of the open blue sky, it seemed a cruel world to give a creature wings and then leave him in the sand. And by the end of the thought, it took flight, springing off the small twig, I watched as it flew out of sight and my son came around the corner.