A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Crane Dance

The cranes' full dance eludes me... Yet it's been a compelling, infectious motif throughout history. A crane dance was performed by Theseus on his return from Crete with the youths and maidens he had freed...There was a 'dance of wild cranes' in China in 500 BC with a ritual pattern so similar it is hard to avoid the suspicion that the two were related... John Clare describes a dance called 'acting the crane' which was played at the Harvest Home feast... In nineteenth-century America, when whooping cranes were still common, the Florida backwoods naturalist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote an evocative account of their evening ceremonials: 'The cranes were dancing a cotillion as surely as it was danced at Volusia. Two stood apart, erect and white, making a strange music that was part cry and part singing. The rhythm was irregular, like the dance...

From Richard Mabey's book Nature Cure.

(Photo taken last year at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in North Norfolk. Double-click to enlarge.)


The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Cranes are one bird I know little about from first-hand experience. I do see them in the north country around Lake Superior, but never here except as sky-high migrators.

As to the why of the dance…I'm not sure it's any more explainable than rabbits dancing in the moonlight. However, I would some day like to see cranes dance and be puzzled in person.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Have seen cranes in Turkey years ago, but they were not dancing. Did see Great crested grebe doing a wonderful courting dance on the lake at Leighton Moss last year - magic.

The Solitary Walker said...

I've seen that grebe dance - the synchronized head turning - wonderful!

And what about the eerie calling and courtship of red-throated divers on the Isle of Skye? A must hear, must see, I think. One day.