On a beautiful spring morning at Baraboo’s International Crane Foundation, friends and I talk about people who have recently passed away. One friend says, “I told my husband we’re at the age when we need to check the obituaries every time the paper comes out.”
I agree. Others nod as well.
Our tour begins and as we walk the paths of the newly renovated Crane Foundation, I think about my “bucket lists,” records on paper and on the computer of the things I want to do before I kick the bucket. I have several going that I look at occasionally.
As the crane foundation’s tour guide leads us past the light bluish grey Brolga cranes originating from Australia, I ponder my entry “travel to Australia.” Similar to several other bucket list entries, it’s a long shot, but I still like thinking it’s possible, so I’m not eliminating it. My “win a Newbery” and “lose 8 pounds and keep it off for a year” are probably not going to happen either. But one never knows.
Recently my husband, brother, sister-in-law and I talked about the possibility of going on a Viking River Cruise, which would include seeing Germany. “Visit Germany” is #41 on the list I made 15 years ago. Might that be the next item I cross off? I have my fingers crossed.
Of the 41 items on that list, I’ve checked off 19 and have 22 unchecked including “Visit the ancient ruins of Mesa Verde” and “see a wild polar bear.” Recently I joyously checked off two other items. “Publish two picture books” and “publish Stranded on Castaway Island” took more effort and time than I ever imagined, but I’m now able to share my stories with readers.
The crane foundation’s founder, George Archibald, knows about dreams taking time. He had the ambitious bucket list goal to breed, through artificial insemination, a whooping crane named Tex by imitating the courtship dancing and behavior of a male crane. In 1967, the San Antonio Zoo hatched the whooping crane in Texas. But she was weak and staff had to rear her by hand. As a result, she imprinted on humans. George describes in his book, My Life with Cranes, how he moved his office into Tex’s pen and spent years bonding with the crane. George’s dedication paid off and through his hops, flaps, and gyrations—people thought he was crazy—he stimulated Tex to lay eggs. Thanks to George’s commitment, the whooping crane population is increasing.
After hearing about imprinting, a friend asks our guide about the dangers of feeding the pair of sandhill cranes on her property. They have almost become pets, my friend says. The guide answers that since the cranes aren’t coming close to any other humans, she didn’t think my friend had to worry.
My bucket list had one pet related entry that I got to check off 11 years ago. I achieved “train a puppy” after my husband and I got our cockapoo, Josie, who is curled up next to me as I write this column. Like getting to see sandhills and their young in our backyards, the bond between a pet and owner has been a joyful addition to my husband’s and my life.
Bucket list entries may be self-indulgent or provide service to others. Either way, they should be items that bring you joy. My 2018 entry, “query newspapers to be a columnist,” written months before I resumed writing for The Dells Events, has certainly brought me joy.
As our tour concludes, and we plan on where we’d like to go for lunch, I feel re-energized. We can see the frequent reminders that life is short as a blessing, a chance to examine how we are spending our time.
Are we living life to the fullest? Is it time to make or add to our bucket list and take action? Now might be the time to consider your wishes and to make plans.