Chicago Sun-Times
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When bathtubs fly on a Wild Sunday 11-2-08

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Maybe the headline should be ``Journal to `Hurry up and wait.' ''

As of Saturday, the ultralight-led migration of young whooping cranes remained stranded in Green County, Wisconsin. For nearly two weeks, we have been expecting the whoopers to cross into Illinois and take the new route down the center of the state on their journey to Florida, instead of the old route that circled Chicago and into Indiana.

Weather has the final say, and the whoopers stay.

But the journal entries of the stranded staff make for interesting reading. It reminds me of the couple years early in my life that I spent in television news, where the mantra was ``Hurry up and wait.''

Here's a taste from Brooke Pennypacker's entry on Saturday, Nov. 1. It should be titled, ``When bathtubs fly,'' but you'll have read more than this taste to know why:

``The name, Wisconsin, I have recently learned, is derived from the Indian word for Velcro. A fact which should have been obvious to me since it was an Indian that first learned that money sticks to the stuff, and thus began the stampede of casinos in the state. This goes a long way to explain why it is that year after year our migration stalls in Wisconsin, seemingly before it ever really starts.

``The little arrows of the Winds Aloft Computer Chart point as bold and threatening at us as the ones pointed at Custer's back at Little Big Horn, and it makes about as much sense for us to launch birds into this headwind as it did for Custer to charge into that hail of hostile arrows. So here again we sit - -stuck!''

A few paragraphs later, in one of the great leaps in narration, the entry loops to the tale of a woman stuck in her tub for five days.

Leading to this nicely nuanced clincher to the entry:

``. . . So as I sit here, stuck, at our last migration stop in Wisconsin, the sun is shining, birds are singing, I'm still in one piece and life is pretty darn good.

``Now, if I could just figure out a way to put wings on a bathtub!''

The field journal entries are posted at http://operationmigration.org/Field_Journal.html.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on November 2, 2008 6:45 AM.

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