There is nothing better than a good grouse to start a morning … unless it is three of them.
I was walking in our sand hills last week when they swooped past me, a trio of lesser prairie chickens, soaring low and to the east, their unmistakable wing pattern carrying them north of my house and across the horizon a mile or so away.
We know how devastating this drought has been on local agriculture. It has been equally hard on our wildlife neighbors, including the elusive, naturally shy, wonderfully comical prairie chickens. (A High Plains historian told me recently with a grin that she has decided they’re mythical since she has lived here her whole life and never seen one.)
Being thrilled by three would be almost laughable to our pioneer predecessors who saw them by the thousands blackening the sky, so abundant that they were a fairly reliable source of protein a hundred years ago.
In a time when it feels like every drop of rain and flake of snow is kidnapped by the wind, I couldn’t help but feel a glimmer of hope when those birds flew by on that frosty morning.
Thank goodness for feathered reminders that life endures, even in the toughest years.