The cranes are the greatest of the flying birds. They represent harmony, good fortune, longevity and fidelity. They have a voice like no other..and it is truly the voice of spring in Nebraska. They stand 3 feet high...they weigh 10 - 12 pounds....their wing span is 6 - 7 feet wide. They fly 25 - 30 mph...and can travel up to 500 miles in one day. They mate for life...and travel in families....and return again and again and again...often to the very same spot in the very same field they've been feeding from for the last 20 years. They dance to mate...and dance for fun....and dance for joy...and today, they danced for us! We spent a chilly March afternoon cruising down the dirt roads that line the Platte River...windows down, heater on, speaking in whispers, and often stopping in awe! This isn't the first year we've traveled down I-80 in search of returning spring joy. It's become an annual tradition. A favorite breakfast stop, fresh coffee to go, the XM tuned to the oldies, camera battery charged.....and the nose of our little red Honda turned westward. And each year we find it.....joy in the ancient flight of the worlds oldest birds. Joy in the sight of their crazy dancing...their gleeful sounds....their elegant strut... and their dazzling colors. Each year, we leave with a memory card full of photos, convinced that this year was the best...it could get no better. And each year, we find.....we were wrong! It got better! Joy surrounded us...it filled the air, stood in the water, ambled across the roads and danced in the fields. It made us laugh...and made us stop....and took our breath away. I'm not sure if it's the mystery and wonder of this trip that keeps us coming back. Or maybe its the comfort we find in rituals....taking the same trip down the same roads with our own mate ...much like the life of these majestic birds. But what I do know is that as long as I'm able, sometime each year in March, you can find me cruising slowly down a dirt road along the Platte, windows down...heater on...in search of the joy I find there.