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January 11, 2018 - Crazy for Cranes

This past Saturday, the morning with the coldest recorded low my thermometer has seen this year, I set out with a friend of mine for a quick trip, down and back, to the Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Area in Indiana to see if we could locate any sandhill cranes that might still be hanging around in the lower Midwest. Those of you who are long-time readers of this column, know that I am crazy for (sandhill) cranes and also that I try to see them every month of the year. I have been doing this pursuit for the past couple of decades and used to have to go to Indiana in December to get that month’s cranes and then further south to get January’s. But times have changed and the cranes are hanging around Wisconsin into December, and, I am happy to report, are still to be found in Indiana (yet again this year) in January. We drove 231 miles mostly south and a little east and found cranes. They are in a very small area – near the power plant and surrounding fields—but there were lots of them. A couple of clouds of cranes were up and landing on cornfields they had taken the snow off of. In places they were thick on the ground and in other places in family groups. The sun was shining brightly and it was actually hot in the car and 16 degrees and the cranes were dancing and yakking away with the reedy, piping voices of this year’s young joining in. These cranes looked well-adapted to the cold. They looked brawny. Mostly when I think of cranes I think of tall, rather skinny, rather elegant, birds. Birds with a ballet dancers build. The cranes that were hanging out around the power plant were built more like dancers in a musical – say “Newsies” or the gangs in “West Side Story”. They looked stocky, well-fed, and ready to rumble. Even though there was snow on the ground and the temperatures were cold (but warming) to see cranes loafing on cornfields reminds me that spring is not that far away and that if you really need spring (usually) you can drive south to it. Below you will find some of the new books that have arrived this past week which should help you pass the time until spring arrives and

  • “The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi” by Phi Szostak. In a book featuring concept art and costume sketches, storyboards and blueprints, fans will take a deep dive into the development of the fantastic worlds, characters and creatures—both old and new—of The Last Jedi , in a book that includes exclusive interviews with the filmmakers.
  • “Happiness in This Life: A Passionate Meditation on Earthly Existence” by Pope Francis. Presents a collection of homilies, speeches and “messages of the day” that brings together Pope Francis’ wisdom on finding happiness in the here and now.
  • “Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art” by Sam Wasson. From the best-selling author of “Fosse” comes a sweeping history of the uniquely American art form of improv, which has never been more popular, from its beginnings during the McCarthy Era through the rise of such institutions as Second City, the Groundlings and the Upright Citizens Brigade and such performers as Tine Fey, Steve Carell and Bill Murray.
  • “Should the Tent Be Burning Like That?: A Professional Amateur’s Guide to the Outdoors” by Bill Heavey. A new collection by the editor of “Field & Stream” and the author of “If You Didn't Bring Jerky, What Did I Just Eat?” gathers some of his top-selected writings on the joys and pitfalls of hunting, fishing, family and outdoor adventure.
  • “Spaceport Earth: The Reinvention of Spaceflight” by Joe Pappalardo. Shows the current state and future of the space-travel industry at a crucial juncture in the industry’s history.
  • “Persepolis Rising, No. 7(The Expanse)” by James Corey. Presents a latest entry in the best-selling series that includes “Leviathan Wakes” and “Caliban's War” and has inspired a major television series.
  • “Survival, No. 3 (Star Quest) by Ben Bova. Encountering a civilization of intelligent machines that have survived earlier death waves for eons, the human scouting team struggles to convince the disinterested machines to help secure humanity's survival. By the six-time Hugo Award-winning author of “Apes and Angels”.
  • “Year One, No. 1(Chronicles of the One) by Nora Roberts. A tale of suspense and survival is set in the wake of a cataclysmic pandemic that wipes out more than half the world's population, replacing science and technology with magic and compelling Lana, a practitioner of good witchcraft, to embark on a perilous journey west with her lover and other survivors. By the best-selling author of the “In Death” series.
  • “Firefly Cove, No. 2(Miramar Bay)” by David Bunn. A follow-up to the internationally best-selling Miramar Bay follows the experiences of terminally ill young adult Lucius, who returns to the home of his youth to reunite with the only woman he ever loved.
  • “Enchantress of Numbers” by Jennifer Chiaverini. Rigorously educated in mathematics and science by her mother, an only legitimate child of brilliant Romantic poet Lord Byron is introduced into London society as a highly eligible heiress before forging a deep bond with inventor Charles Babbage and using her unique talents to become the world's first computer programmer. By the best-selling author of”Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker”.
  • “Nightblind, No.2 (Dark Iceland)” by Ragnar Jonasson. A U.S. release of an international best-seller follows the murder of a policeman with a haunted past and the arrival of a mysterious young woman whose own secrets threaten the safety of everyone in a tight-knit Northern Iceland fishing village.
  • “The Wanted (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike)” by Robert Crais. Investigator Elvis Cole and his partner, Joe Pike, embark on a seemingly simple case involving a client who fears her troubled teen son is dealing drugs, an investigation that reveals the young man's dangerous role in a string of high-end burglaries that have resulted in a murder and a disappearance. By the award-winning author of “The Promise”.